The Federal Trade Commission has issued a new report calling for Congress to pass legislation that would have a major impact on businesses operating in the United States. The report went public late this month and recommended the widespread adoption of online systems that would help to protect the privacy of consumers who use or visit websites. Among other recommendations, the FTC is calling for mandatory business participation in any system Congress creates. The agency also specified that a system in which consumers can decline to be tracked online is essential.
The full name of the report is "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers." In addition to recommending legislation, the report also directly addresses businesses that deal with consumer data, urging them to implement programs and policies that will create "privacy by design." This approach assumes that privacy concerns are paramount from the beginning so that they can be built into systems at inception rather than cobbled on as an afterthought.
Although the report does not specifically call for a managed programs model for IT support and services, there is no doubt that businesses using a managed programs approach have advantages when it comes to implanting and maintaining the systems that will support a robust conception of online privacy. In a managed programs approach, IT modifications needed to achieve a high level of consumer privacy are not pushed to the side, waiting for a time when an in-house staffer will have an opportunity to address them. Instead, such needs can be taken care of by dedicated personnel who work for an IT company and stay up to date with the procedures and processes needed to implement online privacy.