For Release: January 21, 2000
Online Privacy Committee Members Named
Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security to Initiate Review in February
The Federal Trade Commission has named the members of its Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security and announced that the Advisory Committee's first meeting will be held February 4. The Committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Commission regarding the costs and benefits, to both consumers and businesses, of implementing the fair information practices of access and security online. Providing consumers access to the information collected from and about them and providing security for that information are two of four core fair information practice principles described in the Commission's 1998 report, Privacy Online: A Report to Congress. The other two principles are "notice," and "choice." The Commission also regards "enforcement" as an essential component of effective self-regulatory programs. In a follow-up report to Congress last year, the Commission noted that access and security are important privacy safeguards, but that they may raise a number of implementation issues.
In a Federal Register Notice published yesterday, the FTC announced that the first meeting of the Advisory Committee, which will be open to the press and public, will be held Friday, February 4, 2000, at FTC headquarters in Washington, D.C. The meeting will explore the issues of what constitutes "reasonable access" to data collected from and about consumers and what exemplifies "adequate security" for that information. Subsequent Advisory Committee meetings will be held February 25, March 31, and April 28, at FTC headquarters. Those, too, will be open to the public and press. The Advisory Committee will present a written report to the Commission describing options for the implementation of access and security online, and the costs and benefits of each option, no later than May 15, 2000, and will conclude its work no later than May 31, 2000. The Commission encourages the public to submit comments for the Advisory Committee's consideration during the period in which the Committee is performing its work.
"The roster of distinguished members of this Advisory Committee represents a broad cross-section of e-commerce experts, online businesses, security specialists, and consumer and privacy advocates" said Robert Pitofsky, Chairman of the FTC. "The Commission is gratified that the members have agreed to serve on the Advisory Committee as we address the challenges of assuring consumer privacy online."
In selecting the members of the Advisory Committee, the Commission considered over 180 nominations received from a broad array of interested parties. According to the Committee's charter, members will consider, among other things, whether the extent of access provided by Web sites should vary with the sensitivity of the personal information collected and/or the purpose for which such information is collected; whether the difficulty and costs of retrieving consumers' data should be considered, whether consumers should be provided access to enhancements to personal information (e.g., inferences about their preferences or purchasing habits); appropriate and feasible methods for verifying the identity of individuals seeking access; whether a reasonable fee may be assessed for access, and if so, what a reasonable fee would be; and whether limits could be placed on the frequency of requests for access, and if so, what those limits should be. The Advisory Committee will also consider how to define appropriate standards for evaluating the measures taken by Web sites to protect the security of personal information; what might constitute reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of this information; and what measures should be undertaken to protect this information from unauthorized use or disclosure.
The Advisory Committee members are:
Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. P004807)