November 16, 2013

Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill Visits the Lab

The Tech Policy Lab was honored to host Commissioner Julie Brill of the Federal Trade Commission at the University of Washington, School of Law on November 13. Commissioner Brill met with students and faculty to discuss her career in public service and current issues in digital privacy.

Below are her answers to some questions discussed during the event.

What advice would you give to a student who is interested in a legal career involving privacy, consumer protection, or competition policy?

Do as many internships as you can. Talk to as many practitioners as you can, you never know which conversation will turn into a job possibility. Think about state and local government. I was at a state attorney general’s office for over 20 years, I loved it. I was in a small attorney general’s office. When you are in a small office you get a lot of different responsibilities.

Do you think that U.S. privacy laws are sufficient to protect consumers? If not, what types of changes or legislation would you recommend?

I think that we can always do more to protect consumer privacy. There should be comprehensive privacy legislation to establish baseline privacy rights across all industries. I also think there should be legislation around data brokers to increase the transparency of data collection and use, and provide access, correction and deletion rights to consumers. Other solutions could be businesses adopting the FTC’s privacy framework such as “Privacy by Design” and Simplified Choice. My recent Reclaim Your Name initiative would give consumers the power to access online and offline data already collected, exercise some choice over how their data will be used in the commercial sphere, and correct any errors in information being used by those making decisions materially impacting consumers’ lives.

Does the FTC’s privacy work have an international scope?

International issues are implicated all the time. The FTC participates in the international enforcement network GPEN and the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. The International Conference only allows independent agencies to join and after years of the FTC acting as an observer, I led the effort for the FTC to become a member. We are also responsible for enforcing the U.S. – EU Safe Harbor Framework. In terms of policy, the FTC participates in multilateral policymaking in the OECD, APEC, and other organizations and has contributed to various projects, including the revision of the OECD’s Privacy Guidelines and the development of the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules.