October 27, 2017
Federal Trade Commission
Office of the Secretary Constitution Center
400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor Suite 5610 (Annex A)
Washington, DC 20024
Re: Informational Injury Workshop P175413
The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is pleased to comment on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC or Commission) examination of consumer injury in the context of privacy and data security. CDT is a nonprofit technology advocacy organization dedicated to promoting public policies that preserve privacy, promote innovation, and enhance individual liberties in the digital age. Our work explores the changing role of technology and data in our daily lives, investigating its impact on individuals and communities as well as the potential for data to invade privacy and cause harm.
Privacy violations are by their nature contextual, making them difficult for individuals to evaluate and regulators to quantify. Two important elements should be included in the Commission’s consideration of information injury: first, user control, or lack thereof, should be an important component of the Commission’s analysis of unfair acts or practices. Second, while expanded individual rights to information could serve to counterbalance the risk of privacy violations, information asymmetries limit an individual’s ability to make informed decisions about privacy and security.