Any bill has to give the FTC more power to regulate as problems evolve. It’s not going to resolve all privacy concerns. But it should give strong capabilities to the FTC, state AGs and consumers.
Do you think any firm legislation will actually come from all this?
If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen in 2010.
We’ve got (Rep. Rick) Boucher committeed to a draft of the bill by next year. That will be first time in close to a decade that we’ll have a serious discussion about why we’re the only country without any baseline privacy laws.
We have an FTC and an administration that is going to be more receptive to taking stronger action with respect to privacy. The FTC has more freedom now to start to look at how to be more muscular in their response to this. This should bolster the role of one of the leading agencies in the world.
For the past 10 years, the political environment has been pushing companies to self-regulate. We’re not in an environment where self-regulation is the only solution. We continue to believe it’s part of the solution, particularly if it’s backed up by law and the power of the FTC.
So the FTC needs to have some rule-making authority. It's taken 10 years to build up that role...they've done a lot of aggressive enforcement.
But there's only so much government can do to protect privacy, right?
Consumers have to be the prime solution here. It’s a heavy lift. A lot of people don’t know what they don’t know about the practices online. And if you don’t know, you’re not worried.
We think this is the right time to start (going) out into the Internet to get people to organize and demand new laws and new tools.