FTC’s Harbour Salutes Man Controlling Trade

For a good read today, I recommend Federal Trade Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour’s concurring statement (see the PDF), submitted in conjunction with the FTC’s revised behavioral advertising principles. OK, it ain’t exactly the comics section or Perez Hilton, but trust me, if you work in the online advertising industry, or just watch the industry, you’ll find it interesting.

Harbour essentially calls for the Obama administration to pass privacy legislation, and pretty much pans the industry for ineffective attempts at self-regulation regarding data privacy. Harbour, who was the lone dissenter on the commission’s approval of the Google/DoubleClick deal, could leave when her current term ends in September. However, she seems determined to express her beliefs on this controversial subject before her time is up.

Indeed, after reading her statement — which calls for a more comprehensive approach to regulating online data collection and usage — it’s a bit surprising that she is in favor of the principles. The conclusion to her 12-page statement is especially enlightening:

Last fall, the Commission expressed “cautious optimism” for a self-regulatory approach to online advertising. Today’s staff report reflects more optimism, but less caution – even though nothing has happened to justify a change in tone. Much like the ‘Man Restraining Trade’ in the beautiful sculpture outside my office window, I owe it to consumers to encourage the Commission to rein in unbridled optimism and ensure continued caution. For this reason, I share my thoughts today.

Actually, according to the FTC Web site, the sculpture is named “Man Controlling Trade.” It was created by New York sculptor Michael Lantz, completed in 1942.

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