FTC's online privacy report: Breaking down the recommendations


Second: Make sure mobile users get the same level of privacy protections that desktop users get. With the advent of GPS capabilities on and mobile that exist outside standard browsers, keeping consumers' privacy on the mobile Web is a wee bit trickier than on standard wireline services. The FTC plans to host a workshop at the end of May to address how companies can develop short, easy-to-understand privacy disclosures for mobile websites and applications that give users an accurate picture of what data is being collected from them and how it's being used.

Third: Make a centralized website for data brokers. This one is pretty simple: The FTC wants companies that collect data for marketing information to create one central website that would act as a hub for consumers to learn who has been collecting their data and what they're using it for. The FTC also wants data brokers to publicly disclose "the access rights and other choices they provide with respect to the consumer data they maintain" so users can exert more control over how their data can be used.

Fourth: Take a close look at large platform providers. The HTC apparently believes that large platform providers -- think Google, Facebook, , , and the major carriers -- deserve their own special scrutiny to how they manage user privacy. To that end the FTC is holding yet another workshop sometime in the second half of 2012 "to further explore privacy and other issues related to ... comprehensive tracking" performed by the big-time platform providers.

Fifth: Enroll the big stakeholders in self-regulatory programs. This is basically an attempt to get the major Web and tech companies to abide by a common set of privacy guidelines that both regulators and the public can use to judge the companies' behavior. The FTC says that it will "view adherence to such codes favorably in connection with its law enforcement work" and that it will "also continue to enforce the FTC Act to take action against companies that engage in unfair or deceptive practices, including the failure to abide by self-regulatory programs they join." In other words, the self-regulatory programs are voluntary, but if you sign up for them you'd better comply with them or the FTC will have grounds to go after you for deceptive practices.

If you really want to plow through the whole report, you can access it on the FTC website here: