Allie Bohm is the Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Washington DC. Today, she and Sima Vasa discuss the existing privacy and consumer policies in the United States.
Allie Bohm – Policy Work Expert
Prior to Public Knowledge, Allie dedicated most of her time at law school. She also spent 7 years at CLU doing policy work. Now, she is working to help promote the freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works.
Privacy Policies in the USA
In the absence of a privacy law, there are a few things in place. One is the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPP), which the Department of Housing, Education, and Welfare established in the 1960s.
“We need a comprehensive privacy law and we don’t have one.” – Allie Bohm
FIPP serves as the basis of many discussions on privacy in the industry and in the United States. But, it never became law. There are a number of sector-specific ones instead.
Among which are the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, the Cable Privacy Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and the Video Privacy Protection Act. State laws also exist.
Support from the Federal Trade Commission
For anything which doesn’t fall under these laws, according to Allie, there is Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. It penalizes unfair, deceptive practices.
“It was not created for the Internet Age but the FTC has been created about using it here.” – Allie Bohm
An activity is considered deceptive when its recipient doesn’t know about it. For unfairness, there has to be substantial harm and a legally recognizable harm. Also, harm must not be reasonably avoidable.
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