November 22, 2016–The Federal Trade Commission said in comments filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today that NHTSA’s “thoughtful approach” in its request for comments on proposed industry guidance for highly automated vehicles will help ease the transition to fully autonomous vehicles “and usher in a new era in transportation – a new era made possible by, among other things, innovative uses of information.”
The FTC’s comments, written by Jessica Rich, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, key in on information privacy and security issues and say that it is “crucial” that vehicle makers and other entities “ensure that consumer protections are built in from the start.” The comments focused on a federal policy on automated vehicles released by NHTSA in September (TRDaily, Sept. 20).
Ms. Rich noted that privacy policies and practices in the NHTSA policy report on autonomous vehicles follow FTC guidance and the agency’s consumer bill of rights that are “based on the Fair Information Practice Principles, such as choice, respect for context, and data security.”
“In particular, the transparency principle, which requires OEMs to have public-facing privacy policies, is an important one because it would permit the FTC to take action against companies that misstate their information collection and use practices,” Ms. Rich said. “By requiring companies to consciously think about their privacy practices, clearly and publicly articulate them, and ensure that their statement matches their practices, the transparency principle also provides an important accountability function,” she said.
Ms. Rich also said the FTC supports the NHTSA policy report’s call for vehicle product development to minimize safety risks associated with cyber vulnerabilities, saying that message was “vitally important.” She also said the FTC supports the NHTSA report’s call for sharing of data on cyber vulnerabilities. “Although information sharing is not a panacea, robust information sharing can help industry members identify threats and act to prevent or mitigate security incidents,” she said. – John Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org