The US Federal Trade Commission has just announced that it will be releasing the final version of a framework designed to protect consumer privacy early next week. On Monday, March 26th, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz will hold a conference announcing the Commission's decision and releasing the report, originally titled "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change."

The initial proposal, filed in December of 2010, suggested a "Do Not Track" mechanism that would easily allow consumers to stop businesses from collecting information as they surfed the web, as well as other measures that would make it easier to see what information had been obtained by each company. It also suggests a comparison tool for privacy policies. This final version will incorporate comments from consumers and businesses. Although it's not a binding law in itself, the framework is designed for use by Congress as it formulates privacy guidelines. The FTC declined to give any more information on the proposal, but we'll have more information after the call on Monday.

The framework was developed in response to what the FTC described as "increasing advances in technology that allow for rapid data collection and sharing that is often invisible to consumers." In particular, lengthy privacy policies were thought to "force consumers to bear too much burden in protecting their privacy." Though many of the policies the FTC is reacting to are years old, it will be interesting to see whether this framework will do anything to address the recent controversy over simpler but more comprehensive documents like Google's new privacy policy.