Cyber security: Beyond black and white

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zebra_s.jpgADOTAS – This is the final article in a four-part series dedicated to National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Read the first article here, the second article here and the third article here.

During last week’s Online Trust Alliance’s Online Trust & Brand Protection Summit in Philadelphia, Maneesha Mithal, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission Division of Identity Protection, outlined three key challenges around data practices and privacy online.

“We’re used to dealing with black and white,” Mithal noted. “In the privacy area it’s definitely more nuanced.”

First, there is a lack of consensus on what consumers want in terms of online privacy and protection. Second, the FTC does not want to curb technology and cripple online services. And the third challenge Mithal identifies is the tension between predictability and flexibility. Consumers would like to anticipate a predicted outcome for an online action and websites and service providers would like the flexibility to innovate.

“We will encourage and support innovative ways to present disclosures to consumers. The long privacy policies are not effective,” said Mithal.

To address these challenges, the FTC is hosting a series of roundtable discussions starting in December titled “Exploring Privacy”. The roundtable will “explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data.”

The FTC would like to permit and not interfere with beneficial data practices, and incentives may be provided for data practices and disclosure that are understandable and effective.

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