FTC to Host Conference on Consumer Privacy Trends, Research

    Jan 13, 2016

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a conference on January 14 that will feature original research presentations on consumer privacy and security issues. Originally announced in August, this first-time event, entitled “PrivacyCon,” will take place at the FTC’s office in Washington, D.C., and will bring together thought leaders from government, academia, research, consumer advocacy, and industry to discuss the policy implications of the research being conducted throughout the world.

    “We want to increase the FTC’s engagement with the technology community in order to more effectively encourage innovation that is protective of consumer privacy and security,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “At PrivacyCon, our goal is to have leading experts in privacy and data security sit at the table with us and other policymakers to discuss their original research findings and the implications for consumer privacy.”

    According to the FTC, the conference will focus on five major themes: the current state of online privacy, consumers’ privacy expectations, big data and algorithms, the economics of privacy and security, and security and usability.

    “Original research presented at PrivacyCon will address such issues as how consumers’ understanding of privacy online squares with the options about their privacy that they are provided, tools to analyze the way consumers’ information is shared and used online, and the effectiveness of programs to track security vulnerabilities,” the FTC noted in its December 29 agenda announcement. “The researchers represent a number of institutions, including universities from the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Australia.”

    Seventy-five research presentations were submitted to the FTC on its PrivacyCon portal. One submission by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation includes a collection of recently commissioned research on data‚Äźdriven innovation and the Internet of Things. The research addresses such issues as the implications for health monitoring and healthcare delivery, data privacy and security, consumer protection and benefit from connected devices, big data and its impact on all sectors of society, and policy considerations.

    The Information Accountability Foundation (IAF) also submitted research on how to implement ethical big data assessments and to make them enforceable in global markets.

    “Big data creates both unprecedented opportunities to generate information-based innovation and risk to individuals and society as a whole unless effective governance is in place,” noted Martin Abrams, the researcher who authored the paper on behalf of IAF.  “In order to take advantage of the benefits, and reduce the risks, of the use of big data, governance processes must go beyond compliance and understand whether big data analytics are ethical, i.e., whether they are legal, fair and just.”

    Attendance at the event is free and open to the public. The day-long event will also be publicly accessible via live webcast at a link that will appear at the top of this page.

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