February 7, 2001, 12:00 AM

FTC to hold workshop on consumer information

The FTC will explore how businesses merge and exchange detailed consumer information.

The Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop on March 13 to explore how businesses merge and exchange detailed consumer information and how such information is used commercially. According to a Federal Register notice to be published shortly, "The Commission proposes to explore how detailed consumer profiles -- i.e., compilations of identifying information, preference information, purchasing habits, and other information related to a particular consumer -- are created and used by entities other than third-party Internet advertising networks. In particular, the Commission plans to consider whether and how consumer profiles are created through the merger and exchange of data between companies, regardless of whether the data at issue is collected or used online or offline, and how such profiles are used commercially. The goal of the upcoming workshop is to educate the Commission and the public about current business practices and emerging technologies."

Questions to be considered at the workshop include:
- What kinds of consumer information do businesses purchase, sell or exchange to create profiles, and what are the sources of that information?
- Are there new technologies or technical standards that may increase the sharing of detailed consumer information, and do they include or facilitate privacy protections?
- How does the merger and exchange of detailed consumer data between companies affect consumers?
- What types of notice have businesses provided to consumers regarding various kinds of data merger and exchange activities?
- What business purposes are served by the creation of consumer profiles through the merger of a company`s internal information about consumers with information obtained from third parties?

The workshop will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on March 13 in room 432 at FTC headquarters, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

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