This is part one of a 4-part series Consumer Privacy, Data Security & Reputation Management. Please subscribe to our blog so as not to miss parts 2-4.

On March 26, 2012 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)–the only federal agency that handles competition and consumer protection concerns–issued a final Consumer Privacy report. The Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change report opens with a clear call to action:

“With this report, the Commission calls on companies to act now to implement best practices to protect consumer’s private information. These best practices include making privacy the “default setting” for commercial data practices and giving consumers greater control over the collection and use of their personal data through simplified choices and increased transparency. Implementing these best practices will enhance trust and stimulate commerce.”

The FTC’s Consumer Privacy report builds on a preliminary privacy report  issued in December 2010 by providing a privacy framework and recommendations that business (organizations) and policymakers should follow in an effort to protect consumer privacy in the digital age. The Consumer Privacy report directed organizations to embrace practices that were in alignment with the Fair Information Practice Principles which has the following 5 core privacy protection elements:

  1. Notice/Awareness
  2. Choice/Consent
  3. Access/Participation
  4. Integrity/Security
  5. Enforcement/Redress

The Consumer Privacy report also urges organizations to adopt the following 40 year old Fair Information Practice Principles which included privacy by design, simplified choice for businesses (organizations) & consumers and greater transparency. A central focus of both FTC reports encourages policymakers to enact data safeguards legislation which will keep consumers data uncompromised – music to every Consumers’ ears!

Data Breach

Because a data breach (when your information is accessed without your authorization) and the loss of digital information are serious consumer privacy & data security problems, organizations must be diligent and remain aware of how they collect, store and manage your digital information. The risks and costs associated with safeguarding digital information is minimized when diligent data safeguards are in place, however, data safeguards must be nimble enough to adjust to the ongoing and rapid change of today’s digital lifestyles.

A consumer’s worst nightmare is to be told their sensitive, confidential, protected data has been compromised (accessed, viewed, copied, transferred, stolen or used) in some way. In a blink of any eye, a data breach can morph into a credit threat, an identity theft, or a tarnished reputation. Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission understands this fear and exercises their research, investigative and law enforcement authority to safeguard consumer privacy as they work to keep consumer private information uncompromised in these hyper connected times.

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