The United States is well on its way to having a federal agency that regulates online privacy. In the last five years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has assumed increasing jurisdiction over online privacy. The FTC’s true intent to regulate online privacy became evident when it recommended that Congress enact legislation to strengthen its growing power to regulate internet privacy. The FTC uses threats of administrative enforcement actions to guide industry self-regulation through the use of unfair trade practices actions. The FTC acts because consumers feel entitled to data privacy and promotes Web site privacy practices through education and attempts to promulgate the fair information practice principles of notice/awareness, choice/consent, access/participation, integrity/security, and enforcement/redress. The FTC claims that the best way to implement these principles is by incorporation into Web site privacy policies and uses threats of official action to coerce compliance.
Steven Hetcher, The De Facto Federal Privacy Commission, 19 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 109 (2000)