David Vladeck, the head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, shared his vision for consumer privacy protection with an audience at the IAPP’s Privacy Academy on September 30, 2010. Mr. Vladeck began by reminding the audience that the FTC is aggressively enforcing on privacy and data security matters, having brought 29 cases to date. Where possible, the FTC joins forces with other federal regulators, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, to seek broad relief that the FTC could not otherwise get on its own. Mr. Vladeck indicated that the FTC also works closely with the states, citing a recent case in which the FTC filed concurrent settlements with 36 state attorneys general. Mr. Vladeck stated that the FTC plans to continue to bring cases to ensure that companies “reasonably” safeguard information.
Mr. Vladeck noted three key areas for future enforcement. The FTC will (1) bring more cases involving “pure” privacy, i.e., cases involving practices that attempt to circumvent consumers’ understanding of a company’s information practices and consumer choices; (2) focus enforcement efforts on new technologies (Mr. Vladeck noted that, to assist staff attorneys in bringing these sorts of cases, the FTC has hired technologists to assist and also have created mobile labs to respond to the proliferation of smart phones and mobile apps); and (3) increase international cooperation on privacy issues (Mr. Vladeck cited the FTC’s recently-announced participation in the Global Privacy Enforcement Network).