Thank you, reader, for taking time out of your day to read this blog post. I trust before clicking on this link you first sought out our website’s Privacy Policy and reviewed it in full, took mental notes while silently nodding throughout, and finished with an audible “I agree” before moving on to review this content. Correct?

Very likely you did not, but take solace in knowing you are in good company. Only 22% of Americans report “often” or “always” reading online privacy policies, and that’s solely for websites which require browsers to affirmatively agree to a privacy policy (i.e., flashing a pop-up with some form of “check the box” affirmation). This does not engender much confidence that Americans are actively seeking out and consenting to the privacy policies embedded within the myriad of websites they visit on a daily basis. And who can blame them – a 2008 study estimated it would take 244 hours each year to read every privacy policy in full for all the websites an average web browser visited annually. So put down your summer beach novel and start reading privacy policies – you’re already 10 weeks behind.

All kidding aside, this is a real problem for the United States’ federal data privacy legal framework, which is guided in part upon the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles. Notably, those include (i) consumer notice and awareness (“Consumers should be given notice of an entity’s information practices before any personal information is collected from them”), and (ii) consumer choice and consent (“In order to be effective, any choice regime should provide a simple and easily-accessible way for consumers to exercise their choice”). If the vast majority of websites utilize privacy policies which consumers are willfully ignoring or otherwise failing to recognize the existence of, much less comprehending their contents, how can one reasonably claim consumers are “on notice and aware” of privacy policies and exercising real “choice and consent” to the management of their personal data?
Continue Reading You Read the Privacy Policy, Right? Sure You Did. A New Federal Bill Seeks to Address the Transparency Gap.

FTCNow, more than ever, corporate boards must ensure their cybersecurity measures are up to par, funded, and properly implemented to avoid the FTC’s wrath. Corporate boards need to be cognizant of both ensuring that their cybersecurity measures are consistent with best practices and with nationally and internationally recognized data security standards — and that those cybersecurity measures can actually be met through commitment of sufficient resources. Otherwise, the Federal Trade Commission may find fertile ground to scrutinize the company, and
Continue Reading Corporate Boards Beware: The FTC is Watching

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) governs an online operator’s collection of personal information from children, i.e., those under 13 years of age.  Generally, the act requires verifiable parental consent before an online operator may collect a child’s “personal information,” a term that the rule broadly defines.  Verifiable parental consent is not easy to obtain, but it has been simplified, per the FTC’s guidance, for operators collecting online information in partnerships with schools.

Verifiable Parental Consent
The general rule
Continue Reading Simplifying Classroom Consent: the FTC’s Guidance on COPPA in Schools