January 10, 2000
Mr. Donald S. Clark
Dear Mr. Clark:
I am a member of the law firm of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, and the Chairman of its Online Law Group. I am writing to nominate Joyce E. Plyler as a member of the Federal Trade Commission's Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security. You are no doubt familiar with Ms. Plyler's twelve-year tenure at the Federal Trade Commission, in various staff and advisory positions.(1) I would like to advise you of Ms. Plyler's current position and her qualifications to serve on this Committee.
Ms. Plyler is currently Of Counsel to Womble Carlyle and a charter member of our Online Law Group. Not only was she instrumental in the formative stages of the Group, but she has been a valuable resource to the Group and the firm as a whole regarding the multitude of issues that have arisen in internet commerce. Within this broader context, Ms. Plyler has focused her own practice largely on privacy issues.
Because of her understanding and expertise in this area, Ms. Plyler has advised a number of clients, including several major national corporations, on issues related to privacy and security. Specifically, she has advised clients regarding online privacy issues, including the crafting and review of privacy statements, and the review of internal information practices. She has represented companies in diverse sectors, including financial services, manufacturing and retail. Moreover, her own clients have included an internet start-up and a national media and web design firm.
One of Ms. Plyler's most significant clients is a national provider of insurance services, for whom the majority of her work has concerned online privacy issues. Through her work for this client, she has become well versed in various state privacy laws affecting certain industries.
I have worked directly with Ms. Plyler on two significant client matters involving electronic commerce. One involved privacy and other issues related to the sale of consumer goods on a web site. The other concerned contractual terms, including security issues, in a business-to-business application. In these and other matters, I have been impressed with Ms. Plyler's quick grasp of the issues. She took the lead in crafting recommendations for our clients that were thorough and balanced.
Ms. Plyler undoubtedly was the first in our firm to recognize, even before it became effective, the significance of the European Union's Privacy Directive. She has studied it extensively, and has kept abreast of U.S. efforts to reach agreement with the EU on a set of "safe harbor" principles that would facilitate transborder data flows. In addition to advising clients and firm lawyers of the specifics of the Directive, she recently summarized the US-EU debate in the enclosed article for the Consumer Protection Committee of the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association.
Ms. Plyler recently was a speaker at a national conference of marketing executives on the topic of legal issues for web communities. A significant portion of her presentation related to online privacy.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you appoint Ms. Plyler to this Advisory Committee. In addition to the fact that she has the requisite experience and knowledge of the issues that will be the focus of the Committee's work, Ms. Plyler is extremely hard working and conscientious. Her high professional standards and genuine interest in these issues should assure you that she is willing to roll up her sleeves and do the work necessary to provide the type of practical guidance the Commission will need as it considers its policy direction in this important area.
Ms. Plyler's representation of large corporate entities in traditional industries, as well as her representation of new media companies, will offer a breadth of practical experience to the Committee. It will be important for the Commission to understand how consumer data is actually collected, stored, used and protected. Ms. Plyler will be able to share her knowledge of the information processing procedures of diverse companies and explore with the Committee the practical implications of potential regulations or policies.
In addition, Womble Carlyle itself is renowned for its technical expertise. Our internal "Client Plus" team of technology experts can serve as a resource for Ms. Plyler on the possibilities and limitations of current security tools. "Client Plus," which is explained more fully in the enclosed articles, is a team of both legal and technical computer experts who serve as a resource for our clients regarding various technical needs such as the implementation of information management systems.
Finally, working with Ms. Plyler is a real pleasure. Her views are balanced and thoughtful. I have no doubt that she would be a great asset to the Committee and would be instrumental in its ultimate success. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide any additional information for your review.
Very truly yours,
WOMBLE CARLYLE SANDRIDGE & RICE
Kenneth G. Carroll
1. Ms. Plyler was an attorney in the Bureau of Consumer Protection's Division of Enforcement for six years. She then served as an attorney advisor to Commissioner Deborah Owen for almost five years, and finally, was a senior attorney in the Office of General Counsel before moving to North Carolina in 1995.