FTC Disclosure Report Overemphasizes Privacy at the Expense of Innovation

February 1, 2013


WASHINGTON (February 1, 2013) - The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation responded to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) report "Mobile Privacy Disclosures: Building Trust Through Transparency," calling it too focused on protecting privacy without taking into account the overall effect on the user experience.

The report outlined best practices for mobile platforms, app developers, and advertising networks that are designed to enhance the disclosure of information collection and use by the private sector. It also presented a series of proposals designed to strengthen consumer privacy protection.

"The FTC should be applauded for continuing down the path of voluntary recommendations that give companies flexibility to find the best solution for their particular needs," said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with ITIF. "However, while some of these recommendations are in line with current industry best practices, others reflect an overemphasis on privacy at the expense of innovation." 

For example, the report promotes the idea of "Do Not Track" for mobile devices which will diminish the ability of mobile developers to successfully monetize their products. It also argues for an additional layer of privacy notices that some consumers may not want, such as requiring users to give affirmative consent before using certain features of an app. 

"What we don't want is for the government to create so many privacy rules and disclosures that the only people who can write apps are privacy lawyers and the only people who read the notices are privacy advocates," Castro adds. "Innovation flourishes when risk-taking is encouraged and rewarded, not when government officials are peering over the shoulders of programmers and software engineers telling them what to do."


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank at the cutting edge of designing innovation strategies and technology policies to create economic opportunities and improve quality of life in the United States and around the world. Founded in 2006, ITIF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan organization that documents the beneficial role technology plays in our lives and provides fact-based analysis and pragmatic ideas for improving technology-driven productivity, boosting competitiveness, and meeting today's global challenges through innovation. For additional information, visit ITIF at www.itif.org.