By Thomas Lenard
Published in The Hill on February 5, 2015
The new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff report on the “Internet of Things” resembles previous commission privacy reports in being almost entirely bereft of new data or analysis. Commissioner Joshua Wright’s dissenting statement is the best summary: “the Workshop Report includes a lengthy discussion of industry best practices and recommendations for broad-based privacy legislation without analytical support to establish the likelihood that those practices and recommendations, if adopted, would improve consumer welfare.”
The commission has a well-deserved reputation for promoting solid analysis on a range of consumer protection and competition issues. In the very important privacy area, however, the commission has gotten in the habit of substituting workshops, which are heavy on opinions and light on facts, for systematic data-gathering and analysis. As Wright notes, “merely holding a workshop – without more – should rarely be the sole or even the primary basis for setting forth specific best practices or legislative recommendations.”
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