Important Book From Chris Hoofnagle: Federal Trade Commission Privacy Law and Policy

Available from Amazon here. I have only just started reading it, but here's a description from Chris:

FTC Privacy Law and Policy is a broad-ranging primer on the FTC’s consumer protection mission. It is the first hundred-year history of the agency’s consumer protection activities, and it links consumer cases to modern internet privacy efforts. The book offers practical tips for lawyers, strategy for advocates, and insight for policymakers on the challenge of addressing unfair and deceptive trade practices. Most importantly, the book provides context for the agency’s powers and procedure. Much of this context is lost to history, but familiarity with it helps one understand why and how the FTC acts.

-This single volume can bring a student or practitioner into focus on the entire privacy landscape of the FTC, to connections between different areas of FTC enforcement, and into the theories of privacy that the FTC adheres to.

-The activities of the FTC in regulating privacy and security are crucial in the information age.  The companies involved are among the largest in the US economy (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook), and the FTC pays attention to emerging technologies. Hence, the book provides a case study of how the federal government and a federal agency are involving in regulating and creating the basic conditions for the internet age. This book focuses the reader away from day-to-day controversies such as the creepiness of online advertising to help the reader better understand how technology is supplanting law and due process.

-The book makes several contributions to theory. The FTC is a public choice anomaly. Critics have long tried to hang a public choice garb on the FTC, but it does not fit well. The FTC has avoided capture. It has adapted to changing circumstances and different media, even bringing its first internet fraud case in 1994, long before most Americans were online. In earlier decades the FTC leapt upon the most important issues of the day, including proposing a more accurate warning label for cigarettes in the 1960s—the FTC’s warning label told consumers that smoking caused cancer and death. Congress blocked the label.

-Modern conservative critiques of the FTC mainly flow from Posner. Posner later walked back these critiques, but his ideas continue on and still slow down the FTC. For instance, Posner did not object to bait and switch advertising. He simply did not see it as harmful. But Posner overlooked the fact that the FTC studied consumer protection issues of the poor in the 1960s and found bait advertising to be a major problem. To this day however, the FTC cannot get internal support to update the rules on issues that Posner viewed skeptically. For instance, the bait advertising guidelines have not been updated since 1967, the free rule is still in its original, 1971 form, and the negative option rules was last changed in 1998.

-The FTC is an innovative agency that has used its different powers to address many new threats to consumers—from the dangers of cigarettes in the 1960s to the problems presented by information-intensive businesses today. The FTC is the most important regulator of information privacy—and thus innovation policy—in the world. How it understands privacy problems and how it uses its power will determine whether we are masters of technology or its subjects.

And some blurbs from law professors:

"A welcome perspective on challenges facing a great agency designed to "rein in" the American market."
Norman I. Silber, Hofstra University, New York

"A landmark work for anyone interested in privacy or consumer protection law."
Paul M. Schwartz, Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law, Berkeley Law School

"Chris Hoofnagle has written the definitive book about the FTC's involvement in privacy and security. This is a deep, thorough, erudite, clear, and insightful work – one of the very best books on privacy and security."
Daniel J. Solove, John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law, George Washington University, Washington DC

0 thoughts on “Important Book From Chris Hoofnagle: Federal Trade Commission Privacy Law and Policy

  1. Ted Mermin says:

    Not just an important book, but a remarkably popular one. Already out of stock on Amazon, and already listed as their #1 in-category best-seller.

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