FTC announces privacy issues for 2014

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday announced three consumer privacy issues that it plans to examine next year. 

The FTC will hold three events in 2014 that focus on mobile tracking, consumer online scoring and user-generated health data next year.


The first seminar — scheduled to take place on Feb. 19 — will examine technology that allows businesses to track patrons through their mobile devices.

“Companies can use these technologies to reveal information about consumers including the path taken throughout a location, length of time in one location, whether a visitor is new or returning, and the frequency of visits to a location,” the agency wrote.

This kind of technology “raises a number of potential privacy concerns,” especially when users doesn’t know their mobile devices are being tracked, the FTC wrote.

The second event – to be held on March 19 — will look at how companies that collect data about user online activity use that data to score those users and then tailor their online experience them according to their scores.

“These scores are determining whether transactions trigger further scrutiny, the kind of special offers that companies make to certain individuals (and those they don’t), and even whether the customer should speak to a high-ranking customer service agent at a company,” the FTC wrote.

A third event, which has not yet been scheduled, will examine health data that a consumer provides voluntarily and then controls.

“Each of the topics reflects a new technology or business model,” Maneesah Mithal, associate director of the agency’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, said in a statement.

“While the new technologies present important benefits to consumers, it’s also vital that we examine their privacy implications.”