As part of a wrap-up of this week's FTC Tech-ade hearings
, CDT President Jerry Berman participated in a panel on consumers' perspective. Jerry was present at the last FTC hearings in 1995, and as he said today, this set of hearings seem like "deja vu all over again." Ten years ago, the FTC heard a lot about privacy, and over the next ten years they proceeded to delve deeply into the privacy implications of the Internet and how best to approach them. That work has evolved into the current push for general privacy legislation that CDT has been advocating in recent years, and that prominent Internet companies have endorsed this year
. What this week's hearings have shown is that a number of new issues have surfaced - for example, DRM and ubiquitous computing - that are sitting at the same stage where privacy was ten years ago. And into these areas we must delve deeper.
In order to gain that depth, Jerry urged the FTC to take on the task of convening interested parties to drill down on these emerging issues. As a government agency, the FTC is uniquely suited to mediate the concerns of both consumers and corporate interests. Parties can gather together to set benchmarks for achieving certain consumer protections and standards, and reporting mechanisms can be used to track progress and re-assess what further improvements need to be made. This kind of forum will be different (and more effective) than lobbying on the hill or filing comments on FCC proceedings.
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