At the International Association of Privacy Professionals (“IAPP”) Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 5th and March 6th, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) was clear in its message that privacy was a top priority for the agency. The FTC had a strong presence at the conference. Three of the five Commissioners and the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (Jessica Rich) all spoke at the conference and relayed a message of the importance of consumer privacy and security. In that regard, the FTC speakers stressed the importance of:
- informing consumers of the collection of consumer information;
- informing consumers how such collected information will be used; and
- providing strong safeguards for information collected.
The FTC speakers also announced that the FTC will be beginning a new security campaign to engage businesses of all sizes in understanding the importance of securing consumer information. The FTC speakers also emphasized the FTC’s concern and focus on the collection of health information by organizations that are not covered under HIPAA (for example organizations developing wearable devices or other consumer driven apps). Given the tenor of the discussions, there is no question that FTC will continue to make privacy enforcement a top priority. As a result, device manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and mobile health developers should remember to think beyond HIPAA when they think of U.S. privacy compliance. For a listing of prior privacy enforcement actions by the FTC see, https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/protecting-consumer-privacy/enforcing-privacy-promises.