/// Q&A: FTC Chairman on How Web Start-Ups Should Handle Privacy

March 26, 2012  |  All Things Digital


Following the FTC’s release today of a massive online privacy policy framework , I had a few minutes to chat with FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. I asked him about the implications for Web and social media companies that use personal data. credit: Win McNamee, Getty Images News For context, the conversation started with me asking about opt-in versus opt-out product releases — which means, do you first ask your customers whether they want to use something new, or do you give it to them and let them decide if it’s useful or not. Opt-out has been the preferred choice of many companies, perhaps most notably Facebook, because it cuts out the friction of requiring additional permission. Liz Gannes: What do you anticipate being the FTC stance around opt-in going forward? Is it reasonable to interpret the framework as pushing the industry towards opt-in policies? FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz : We’ve laid out some areas where we think opt-in is more appropriate. With financial information, in healthcare, when dealing with vulnerable populations like children. And if cable or phone companies want to do something analogous to deep-packet inspection, there should be opt-in. I think we’re pretty balanced. You want to have better privacy notices, give consumers more choice, and give opt-out on tracking. When you’re talking about more sensitive populations, you might want to flip that and make it an opt-in. We also think when you engage in best practices, what we hear from companies is consumers trust the Internet more, and they want to do more commerce

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Q&A: FTC Chairman on How Web Start-Ups Should Handle Privacy



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