Sat, Jun. 21, 2003

Guess your Data's Safe -- Now

CK - Washington.   The Federal Trade Commission got Guess. Guess got customer data. It promised on its website to keep them "stored in an unreadable, encrypted format at all times." Now Guess got stress.

The FTC found, however, that Guess interpretated its promise loosely. Such data was accessible to intruders with commonly known techniques in clear text. They found them at least in early 2002.

As a result of the FTC investigation and an ensuing consent decree, available on the FTP website, Guess will keep tighter wraps on such data. Presumably, consumers can again trust its privacy statements.

The consent decree has been approved by the FTC commissioners. You can still add your two cents, by contacting the FTC Secretary in DC [i]n re Guess?, Inc., FTC, File No. 022 3260, 6/18/03.

From the perspective of German, and generally E.U., law, this is a welcome result. Lackadaisical treatment of private data in the United States is a major fear and, to some extent, a hindrance to trade between the two jurisdictions. Good enforement of even minimal standards may help minimize some concerns. Overbroad laws and slamming enforcement in Europe may generate their own sets of problems and certainly have produced frictions and inefficiencies.

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