FTC sides with Amazon.com in privacy dispute

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sided with Amazon.com Inc. in a dispute with two privacy groups that accused the on-line retailer of deceiving its customers by changing its privacy policy to permit disclosure of personal information to third parties.

In a two-page letter to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Junkbusters Corp., the FTC said Amazon.com didn’t violate federal trade practices when it altered its privacy policy. The FTC noted that “despite the ambiguity of its revised policy on this issue,” Seattle-based Amazon said it wouldn’t release private information to third parties from consumers who previously selected “never” in an opt-out clause on its Web site. In addition, the FTC stated: “Amazon has informed the FTC that it has never sold, traded or rented the personal information of any of its customers … and it will not do so without notice to its customers and an opportunity for them to choose not to have their information shared.”

Pending deal alarms e-commerce experts

An agreement being negotiated by 46 countries to address jurisdictional issues in the borderless world of e-commerce has given rise to concerns that it could force U.S. companies to comply, in some cases, with potentially restrictive foreign legal standards.

The pending agreement – the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgements – would provide recognition and enforcement of judgements on a trans-national basis. It’s analogous to a U.S. law that ensures that a judgement in one state is enforceable in another. The Hague Convention would cover all kinds of commercial lawsuits, but the main area of contention concerns intellectual property.