20 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 297 2019 creates compliance problems, with different classes of data and varying standards of privacy. It also results in gaps and inconsistencies regarding how the same data may be treated, depending on where it is shared or conveyed. Many policy makers have expressed an interest in addressing these gaps through enactment of comprehensive federal privacy legislation. While there appears to be an increased interest and urgency in creating a federal standard, it should be noted that the FTC has repeatedly called on Congress to enact comprehensive privacy laws to protect consumers for nearly two decades.4 The FTC has long advocated federal regulation, in part because the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) are principles and not enforceable as law, though the commission can police certain behavior deemed unfair or deceptive. While FIPPs provide an excellent starting point as guiding principles for companies engaged in data collection, compliance is largely voluntary. As a result, the United States has largely relied on market mechanisms to protect consumer privacy. In other words, the US has operated under the assumption that if consumers were unhappy about privacy policies or data collection practices, companies would be forced to change. Unfortunately, reliance on market corrections has not resulted in the changes that users would like, in part because privacy policies or terms of services are often hidden, not accessible until after signing up for the platform, or are lengthy and legalistic documents that do not plainly explain data collection practices. Users often do not fully understand what data is collected, how it is used, who else can view it, or whether they can opt-out. In 2012, the Obama Administration released its report, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy,5 largely based on The legal privacy landscape in the United States currently can be described as a patchwork system, at best, that relies on sector-specific federal laws and widely divergent state legislation.
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