FTC Calls For New Privacy Laws In Report On 'Internet Of Things'

The potential privacy risks posed by the “Internet of Things,” or devices that connect with each other over the Web, is spurring the Federal Trade Commission to reiterate its calls for new legislation.

Although the Commission currently has authority to take action against some IoT-related practices, it cannot mandate certain basic privacy protections -- such as privacy disclosures or consumer choice -- absent a specific showing of deception or unfairness,” the FTC says in a staff report released on Tuesday. “Commission staff thus again recommends that Congress enact broadbased (as opposed to IoT-specific) privacy legislation.”

The report recommends “flexible and technology-neutral” laws that will provide “clear rules of the road for companies about such issues as how to provide choices to consumers about data collection and use practices.”

The decision to call for new laws isn't unanimous. Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, who concurred in the decision to publish the report, said she disagreed that new privacy legislation is needed. She added that the FTC already has the authority to require companies to notify consumers and obtain their explicitly consent before collecting “sensitive, personally identifiable information.”

Commissioner Joshua Wright dissented from the decision to publish the report at all. He said in a statement that the recommendations lack “analytical support” to show that they would “improve consumer welfare.”

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