FTC chair wants clearer disclosures to protect privacy

Many consumers are in the dark on how their data is used, the regulator said

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, speaking at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference in Palo Alto on Nov. 12, 2014, with Tony Romm of Politico.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, speaking at the Privacy Identity Innovation conference in Palo Alto on Nov. 12, 2014, with Tony Romm of Politico.

Online service providers need to do a better job telling users what information will be gathered about them and how it will be used, a top official at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

"It's crucial to provide some form of notice, like in the initial set-up of a device or app, about what information is collected, how it's used, and with whom it's shared," said Edith Ramirez, chairwoman at the FTC.

Companies collect a staggering amount of personal data via apps and online services, and they're doing so in in increasingly sophisticated ways. But most people still don't understand what data is collected, and cryptically-worded privacy policies don't help.

That lack of knowlege makes it hard for people to look out for their own interests, Ramirez said.

"One reason consumers don't appreciate the risk is that they're not in a position to fully understand what's taking place," she said, referring to the lack of transparency about what data is being collected.

"Consumers don't appreciate what's going on. It's an issue that needs to be addressed," she said, speaking during a conference on digital privacy in Palo Alto, California.

The FTC has acted against companies for their data collection practices before, with Snapchat being a prime example.

Others at the event proposed measures to help protect people's privacy, some of them very straightforward.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, an industry analyst at Forrester, said that after she downloaded a hotel app to her smartphone, it reminded her that if she saved her log-in credentials in the app, other people would be able to access the Internet using her account if they picked up her smartphone.

There's no reason other apps shouldn't provide similar notifications in a clear and up-front way, she said.

Others recommended services that provide some added security. Glimpse, an app that should be widely available soon, offers disappearing photos like Snapchat but has end-to-end encryption built in. Another company demoing at the show was Virtru, which says it adds an extra layer of encryption to the email service you already use, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGlimpseSnapChatGooglesecuritysocial networkingsocial mediainternetprivacyFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?