May 282015
 
 May 28, 2015  Govt

Justin Brookman writes:

Privacy law in the U.S. is weaker than in most places, but hey, at least we’ve got Section 5.

While many countries around the world have affirmative privacy protections for most data, the U.S. instead enforces a hundred-year old prohibition against deceptive business practices to merely prohibit companies from tricking people about data practices. In recent years, the FTC has expanded its interpretation of Section 5’s ban on deceptive practices to apply not just to misstatements but also to affirmative omissions—that is, when by failure to mention a potentially controversial privacy practice, the company is effectively trying to deceive consumers. This line of enforcement is all in the name of creating external accountability for privacy practices, and a transparent market for personal information. This market is far from perfect, and I think the law should do more to empower people to assess various privacy practices and control the flow of their information.

Still, at bottom, the U.S. has always had one (fairly low!) baseline: don’t lie about what you’re doing.

Recently, however, even this weak standard has been called into question—by two sitting Commissioners of the FTC no less.

Read more on IAPP.

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