During an interview conducted by DLA Piper’s Jim Halpert at the IAPP Privacy Summit in Washington, DC, new FTC Chair Edith Ramirez offered her first public discussion about her vision of FTC actions on privacy since being sworn in as FTC Chair five days earlier.

Speaking on Friday, March 8, Chair Ramirez emphasized the importance of the FTC’s enforcement activities in the context of privacy, citing recent actions against several major technology and social media companies.  She indicated that under her leadership the FTC would continue its focus on mobile privacy and also vigorously enforce the revised Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, which goes into force on July 1, 2013.

When asked about the FTC’s authority to police “unfair” trade practices (as distinct from its authority over “deceptive” trade practices), Chair Ramirez explained that the FTC would continue to use this authority “judiciously,” as it is not a “blank check” to police business practices, but rather a tool to take action in cases of clear harm against business practices that cause or are likely to cause substantial injury to consumers that is not outweighed by the public benefits. However, Chair Ramirez stated that clear harm is not necessarily limited to monetary harm and also encompasses, for example, surreptitious filming of individuals in their homes.

Chair Ramirez also identified the “Internet of Things” – i.e., Internet interconnectivity in devices such as cars, TVs and appliances – and identity theft perpetrated against seniors as priorities for the FTC under her leadership, and she voiced her continued support for the development of a “consensus-based” Do-Not-Track mechanism.

On international privacy issues, Chair Ramirez emphasized her work, in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce, on the APEC Privacy Principles and discussions with European regulators in an effort to move toward interoperability of APEC and EU BCR cross-border data transfer mechanisms.

For additional details on Jim’s interview of FTC Chair Ramirez, see this article on the IAPP website, “New FTC Chair Ramirez points to COPPA, mobile space, BCR-APEC alignment as priorities.”