September 17, 2010


Privacy Still on Minds of Regulators, Legislators

House and Senate lawmakers have been examining privacy issues recently. The Federal Trade Commission is working on a report on online privacy and is expected to release a draft of online privacy principles later this fall. In a recent interview, a senior attorney at the Commission indicated the agency is working to reach an understanding of “privacy” in an online world where historical distinctions between personally identifiable and non-identifiable do not always make sense. Many observers believe the report may address the issue of a “do not track” list similar to the telemarketing “do not call” list.

With few legislative days left in the year, chances for online privacy legislation are slim in this session of Congress. However, the interest remains high and it could become a major issue early in 2011. A possible change in party control of Congress may not lessen the chances for privacy legislation. Congressmen Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., the top Democrat and Republican on the House communications subcommittee, jointly circulated draft legislation earlier this year.

The industry is taking the issue seriously as well. Later this fall the AAF and many allied trade associations and companies will launch Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.

FCC to Consider Opening "White Spaces"

The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote soon on a plan that would allow technology companies to build new smart phones and laptop computers that can surf the Internet using idle TV spectrum, known as “white space.” Advocates believe the plan would expand high-speed Internet connections, spur innovation and help create jobs. Broadcasters have urged the Commission to slow down, citing concerns that the technology could interfere with their signals. Others are concerned that the new users would disrupt wireless microphones, such as those used by theaters, sports leagues, churches, etc.

First Lady Appeals to Restaurants

As part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign targeting childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama has urged restaurants to consider reformulating their menus. She praised the many restaurants that are serving more low-fat dishes, whole grain breads and offering fruits and kid-size portions. She asked them to continue moving forward and consider such options as using less butter or cream and reducing portion sizes.

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