Highlighting a growing trend, the Federal Trade Commission voiced its support for greater online privacy in a recent testimony before Congress.
"Privacy has been an important component of the Commission’s consumer protection mission for 40 years," FTC commissioner Julie Brill told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
"During this time, the Commission’s goal in the privacy arena has remained constant: to protect consumers’ personal information and ensure that they have the confidence to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the dynamic and ever-changing marketplace."
Brill and the FTC's support comes at a moment when online privacy and data security have been garnering significant attention among government officials.
Democratic senators, for example, have joined the Obama administration in supporting a proposed bill that would consolidate the myriad data breach notification laws currently used by states. This, the legislation's supporters argue, would simplify data breach standards for businesses and help protect consumers from identify theft.
Additionally, Senator John Rockefeller, chairman for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has introduced the Do-Not-Track Online Act, which would allow consumers to opt out of online tracking activities.
The FTC did not advocate support or constraint for any particular bill. However, it did note that any do-not-track legislation must be flexible to avoid inhibiting advertising and other economic opportunities.
"Staff recommended that companies should adopt a 'privacy by design' approach by building privacy protections into their everyday business practices, such as collecting or retaining only the data they need to provide a requested service or transaction, and implementing reasonable security for such data," the FTC's testimony stated.
The FTC added that more research is needed before it can officially endorse a do-not-track mechanism, asserting that doing so now would be "premature" and may result in consumers inadvertently losing content without realizing it.