FTC Commissioner Urges Marketers to Destroy Data
Speaking to an audience of leading advertising, marketing and legal professionals gathered in Chicago for the Promotion Marketing Association's annual Marketing Law Conference, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill told her audience that severe harms can result from the vast collection of personal data by advertisers in the age of new media.
Commissioner Brill, one of the nation's foremost advocates for privacy and consumer protection, specifically warned that sensitive information—including matters of health, finance and sexual orientation—is too often collected today; intentionally or unintentionally. According to Brill, "Even though data is often de-identified, it has been shown how easily much of it can be re-associated; especially if it was collected through a smartphone."
She went on to illustrate the risks associated with voracious data collection, retention and use. "If advertisers hold on to data for an unarticulated future use," she said, "the impact of a data breach is heightened in direct proportion to the amount of data collected." She urged companies to responsibly destroy data in a timely fashion.
Data combination, sometimes known as "Big Data," was also cited as a risk by Commissioner Brill. She said, "I'm concerned about such predictive data being used for thing like determining life expectancy or in place of traditional credit reports and impacting credit, employment, housing and insurance."
Other areas covered in the commissioner's address included her review of the 2010 FTC report on the new privacy framework and do-not-track regulations, ongoing enforcement of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the agency's revised guidelines on endorsement.
Throughout her address, Commissioner Brill called for robust protection of data and increased transparency from advertisers and reminded the audience of the trust placed in them by consumers. "Trust is the backbone of marketing," she said in closing. "Consumers must trust what they see, trust what they hear and trust what's being done with the information they share. The consumers are relying on me and I am relying on you."