Eye on Privacy: Tracking What the FTC Tracks
How closely do you track what’s happening at the Federal Trade Commission? If you’re like me, it’s sporadic. But recently, while researching a question on the FTC website, I realized I need to pay more attention. Here are four areas I plan to track more closely in the coming months:
In May, the FTC released the report “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability.” As the title suggests, the FTC, after looking at the practices of nine data brokers, is calling for the industry to be more transparent with consumers about the data collected and to be more accountable by providing consumers access and the ability to correct the data. The FTC concludes by proposing legislation in this area. Critics of the report were quick to point out that while the report focuses on ways the data could potentially be used to harm consumers, no actual harm was identified. That’s good news for the industry—for now. We are a misstep away from proving the FTC’s case. We must be vigilant about how we use data and how we allow others to use the data we collect.
Alternative Scoring Products
Alternative Scoring Products was one of the areas of focus during the FTC’s Spring Privacy Series. The concern appears to be in predictive scoring not covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because consumers are unaware it exists and there is potential for consumer harm. The seminar description included examples, such as “whether contacting a consumer by mail or phone will lead to successful debt collection; whether sending a catalog to a certain address will result in an in-store or online purchase; the likelihood that an individual is taking his or her medication; a person’s presence on the Internet and his or her influence over others; or whether a customer is pregnant, and if so, when the baby is due.” Predictive modeling is at the core of successful marketing, so this is an area to watch closely.