The F.T.C.’s Bully Pulpit on Privacy

I recently had a chance to sit down with Lydia B. Parnes, the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s bureau of consumer protection. She is the top government regulator who looks after Internet advertising and privacy issues, among many other concerns.We spoke in her large office, piled high with stacks of paper, a few hours after she testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on how advertising companies are trying to track the behavior of users online.Interestingly, while Google and Microsoft called for new legislation to create national privacy standards, Ms. Parnes did not. She said the commission believed that its initiative to encourage online companies to regulate themselves is a better way. Here are some of her thoughts, and those of her colleague, Eileen Harrington, the deputy director of consumer protection, who joined us.

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