ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: Corporate Counsel
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
FTC Member Talks Big Data and Consumer Privacy
In addition to the many official secrets brought to light by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, the ensuing national discussion has reminded U.S. citizens just how much of their personal data is in the hands of private corporations. Now a member of the Federal Trade Commission is saying that consumers should have more control over their personal information.
“We don’t have to pass judgment on the NSA or Snowden to acknowledge the disclosures have sparked a necessary and overdue debate on how to balance national security against citizens’ privacy rights . . . We send our digital information out into cyberspace and get back access to the magic of our wired lives. We sense this, but it took Snowden to make concrete what exactly the exchange means—that firms or governments or individuals, without our knowledge or consent, and often in surprising ways, may amass private information about us to use in a manner we don’t expect or understand and to which we have not explicitly agreed.”
She went on to describe the major challenges consumers, corporations, and government face when navigating the modern data landscape, and suggested it is possible to balance the benefits of so-called Big Data with concerns for consumer privacy. “There is no reason that big data cannot coexist with an effective Do Not Track mechanism and with a system that empowers consumers to make real choices about how their private information will be used,” she noted. “The ability to claim your name—or in the case of big data, Reclaim Your Name—is as American as Mom and apple pie.”