FTC Budget Justification Requests More Privacy, Security, New Media Staff

The Federal Trade Commission’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request asked Congress for 40 additional Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff.  Several of these would be in the area of privacy, data security, and new media:

2 FTE for data security enforcement and rulemakings related to data security, breach notice and consumer access to information in certain databases, and other opportunities to provide greater clarity regarding data security principles.

2 FTE to protect consumers in the mobile  marketplace and new media by addressing the privacy, security, and other risks of consumer harms associated with these new technologies.

3 FTE for the FTC Regional Offices to respond to  growing law enforcement challenges in fraud targeting vulnerable Americans and financial services fraud, and provide outreach to close information gaps in the areas of new media, privacy, and health, including 1 FTE for Spanish-speakers to combat illegal practices targeting Hispanic consumers.

2 FTE for economic analysis and support of the Consumer Protection area, including the FACTA study, advertising to children, and consumer financial services.

1 FTE for General Counsel for litigation and legal counsel to cover the rapidly increasing workload on privacy and information security issues.

Posted: February 10, 2010 in:

Let’s Not Close Our Eyes In A Changing Media Environment

The FCC has issued two major Notices of Inquiry. One asks several questions about the Future of Media, and begins:

The objective of this review is to assess whether all Americans have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information that will enable them to enrich their lives, their communities and our democracy. The Future of Media project will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.

Another asks about “Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape“:

The evolving electronic media landscape presents parents with both tremendous opportunities and critical challenges. On the one hand, electronic media technologies present many benefits for children, such as offering an almost unlimited potential for educational avenues and providing the technological literacy needed to compete in a global economy. On the other hand, the technological developments that produce these benefits also present risks for children. With this Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”), we seek to develop a record that will help us answer the question of how to empower parents to help their children take advantage of these opportunities, while at the same time protecting children from the risks inherent in use of these platforms.

Both of these will lead to reports to the public which reflect the information the FCC has gathered.

This is apparently too much for Ken Ferree, who blogs at the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), concerning the first inquiry:

The problem is that the very act of initiating such an inquiry will chill protected speech; government inquiries into what is and is not working in the area of news, information, and media is itself an affront to the First Amendment. And it is no answer that the Commission has embarked on this journey with beneficent motives, it has no power to derogate from the protections of the First Amendment in the name of what one group of bureaucrats may think are important government interests.

Further, some of the PFF staff promise to  “question this ‘questioning‘” that the FCC is engaging in when it asks about about “empowering parents.”

Why stop there? Maybe we should forbid the FCC and the rest of the government from watching TV, listening to the radio, going online, or reading newspapers as well.

Posted: February 6, 2010 in: