FTC Changes Position on Privacy

Washington–In a reversal of the Clinton Administration’s stance on privacy, new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman Timothy Muris said on Oct. 4 that he will not support enactment of any more privacy legislation. Instead, he says, he looks to beef up enforcement of existing privacy laws, such as those against identity theft and against companies that violate privacy promises to consumers. Muris said the FTC plans to increase its enforcement budget by 50% to accomplish its goals.

Additionally, Muris downplayed privacy advocates’ hopes to introduce greater control over information sharing among businesses, both on the Internet and in offline transactions, claiming that no consensus has been developed regarding the best ways to protect privacy. Muris’s views were lauded by the Direct Marketing Association, whose president/CEO, H. Robert Wientzen, noted that marketers will consequently have to prove that privacy self-regulation is effective.