January 5, 2000
Sent Via Electronic Mail
Re: Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security Nomination, P004807
Dear Sir or Madam:
I would like to nominate Deborah Pierce, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to be a member of the FTCs Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security.
EFF is a nonprofit, public interest organization working to protect rights and promote responsibility in the electronic world. Founded in 1990, EFF has a long history in leading the privacy debate including creating TRUSTe, the number one disclosure and assurance system on the Internet, almost four years ago. EFF has initiated a number of efforts at the state and local level in conjunction with national and local organizations. For example, EFF and the ALCU successfully challenged a Georgia statute that, among other things, restricted anonymity on the Internet. EFF is also putting together the EFF Privacy Education Initiative that will provide information, resources and tools for individuals so that they can actively manage the personal information collected about them.
Ms. Pierce is the attorney primarily responsible for privacy-related issues at the EFF. Her involvement in this area includes working with businesses and other non-profits on these issues, leading EFFs team in reviewing and commenting on various high-profile issues such as the Know Your Customer proposed rule, the FAAs proposed regulations, and the FTC's hearings on online profiling. She has spoken publicly on this topic, and worked with consumer advocates to influence legislation. I will describe her qualifications in more detail below in response to the specific questions.
EFF believes that the best way for individuals to protect themselves and their personal information is to understand the threats to that information and what they can do to protect it. Research consistently indicates that most consumers either do not know the threats they face or, if they do, what they can do to reduce them. Implementing fair information practices will greatly help consumers protect their personal information. This committees goals of examining access issues and adequate security and reporting back on options is also another step forward for consumers. Ms. Pierce will be able to add much to these discussions.
EFF believes that it is important to have privacy advocates at the table when discussing options that will be available for consumers to protect their personal information online. Oftentimes advocacy groups are excluded from business and marketing conferences where important issues regarding privacy are discussed. The result is that consumers have been forced to try to negotiate protections for their own data, if they even realize that they should take steps to protect their personal information. Ms. Pierces presence on this committee would help even that balance.
Ms. Pierce has been EFFs privacy point person for over a year. Last November she
wrote our comments for the public workshop on online profiling that was sponsored by the
Commerce Department and the FTC and is therefore quite familiar with the Advisory
Committees issues. The comments were sent in hard copy and via email. They are also
available on our web site at www.eff.org. Session
II comments can be found at http://www.eff.org/pub/Privacy/Profiling/19991020_req_to_prtc_com2.html,
In addition, during that time she has spoken publicly on privacy issues including the Palo Alto Bar Association and as a panelist at the First Amendment Assembly. She has also written numerous comments to the FDIC, the FAA, and the Federal Reserve Board advocating protection of privacy rights and articulating the threats of online profiling and overzealous data collection. She is currently working on forming a coalition of diverse organizations who oppose the proposed rule on medical records privacy promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services and coordinating and drafting the comments that will result from that coalition.
Ms. Pierce will more than adequately reflect the views of the relevant affected interests, in this case consumers who feel that their privacy online has been diminished and want to do something to restore the integrity of their personal information. To that end, she has worked with several companies to educate them about fair information practices and the benefits of using privacy policies that incorporate those guidelines.
Ms. Pierce has also worked with other privacy advocates to better protect personal information that has been collected about individuals. For example, she worked with advocates to help support a bill that was passed into law in California that protects personal information that is collected through the use of grocery store cards.
Finally, as a privacy advocate as well as a protector of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment, Ms. Pierce will reflect the views of EFF. Over the years EFF has been a strong protector of the First Amendment, joining in cases as a plaintiffs such as in ACLU v. Reno, or as a sponsor of cases as in Bernstein v. Dept. of State. Ms. Pierce has spoken publicly on the delicate balance between privacy and the First Amendment and I believe she will be able to help ensure that the First Amendment is adequately protected as we try to protect our personal information online.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to nominate Deborah Pierce for membership in the Advisory Committee. Please contact me at 415-436-9333, ext. 102 if I can provide any additional information.