By Fran Maier

Privacy has dominated this month, or I should say, this year. In just the last few weeks we’ve seen then new FTC privacy report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg named Time’s Person of the Year (in part because of how he and Facebook responded to privacy challenges earlier in the year), and today’s release of the Department of Commerce report on privacy, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework.

Our congrats.

Earlier we shared our thoughts on the FTC’s privacy report, which we believe offers a thoughtful and comprehensive framework for industry to deliver better privacy choices and notices to consumers with the goal of balancing individual privacy values with the economic opportunities personal information creates in the marketplace.

Today’s Department of Commerce report is similarly thoughtful and comprehensive, with an eye to the future, emphasizing the importance of US leadership in a global economy where information is a critical part of economic growth and trade. You don’t have to go far from the title of this report (Commercial Data Privacy and innovation in the internet economy: a Dynamic Policy Framework) to grasp its goals: How do we best balance innovation and economic growth with the privacy expectations of individuals? How might this evolve with new technologies, markets, and values?

We find that many of its recommendations – from a Privacy Bill of Rights that expands and modernizes the Fair Information Practices, to the establishment of a privacy policy office in the US Executive Branch – provide added momentum to this year’s push for better privacy. In this report the Commerce Department provides a road map for self regulation based on the belief that individual privacy protections – in addition to informed choices, accountability, and similar mechanisms, will lead to a more innovative and vibrant economy and enhanced global cooperation.

Next month TRUSTe will be preparing in-depth comments to the Department of Commerce and FTC privacy reports. We’re also finalizing a new set of program requirements for our clients that align closely with the frameworks outlined in these reports. Our new program requirements are designed to ensure that our clients’s privacy practices remain consistent with evolving federal frameworks and that consumers’ expectations of privacy continue to be met when they see the TRUSTe privacy seal online.

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