Last Wednesday, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced that on September 9 the FTC will hold the first seminar of its “Start with Security” campaign (which we previewed in March). The campaign is aimed at helping small and medium sized companies improve their data security practices based on the knowledge the FTC has accumulated over a decade of enforcement action. Also last week, the FTC launched IdentityTheft.gov, a website that offers victims of identity theft tools to report and recover from identity theft and data breaches.
The FTC’s recent focus on privacy issues, particularly identity theft and data security, is a recognition of the priority consumers place on trust in the Internet. Trust in the integrity and security of the Internet and associated products and services is essential to its success as a platform for digital communication and commerce. One of the earliest government reports on the viability of the Internet for commerce said, in 1997, “[i]f Internet users do not have confidence that their communications and data are safe from unauthorized access or modification, they will be unlikely to use the Internet on a routine basis for commerce.”
Internet users continue to prioritize confidence in the security of digital services above all other privacy concerns online. In late 2013, CCIA commissioned a survey of Internet users that aimed to better identify the priorities and concerns of Internet users with respect to the handling of the information they share online. As far as privacy risks go, the study found that nothing is more important to Internet users than the security of their information online, in particular ensuring that their personal data is out of the hands of those who would do them harm.