FTC To Tackle 'Informational Injury'

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to explore the ways in which consumers may be harmed when information about them is "misused," the agency said Friday.

"Information about consumers has become a key input to innovative products and services, as well as to marketing about those product and services," the FTC stated. "However, consumers may suffer injury when information about them is misused by a party with whom they have interacted, by a third party who has accessed that information through a business arrangement, because of a data breach, or through other means."

The agency is seeking comments from the public in advance of a planned December 12 workshop. Among other questions, the FTC is asking for comments on the different types of injuries posed by privacy glitches and data security breaches. The agency also is asking how businesses weigh the costs and benefits of data collection, and how consumers assess the pros and cons of sharing data about themselves.

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"Our cases have focused on deceptive and unfair business practices that cause or are likely to cause consumer injury," the FTC stated Friday. "The workshop will address questions such as how to best characterize these injuries, how we can accurately measure such injuries and their prevalence, and what factors businesses and consumers consider when evaluating the tradeoffs between providing information and potentially increasing their exposure to injuries."

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