FTC Launches Effort to Expand Online Privacy Protections

The Federal Trade Commission will consider new federal rules to expand online privacy protections by targeting online surveillance and lax data-security practices by technology companies. The FTC will examine a range of concerns about the online environment, including the widespread use of algorithms to manipulate and leverage data, security practices that leave data vulnerable to hackers, and the growing evidence that some platforms might be “addictive to children and lead to a wide variety of mental health and social harms.” The FTC also will examine possible discriminatory effects of algorithms based on legally protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, and age—and tactics companies use to coerce consumers into sharing their data. The FTC’s action, on a 3-2 vote divided along partisan lines, spurred immediate criticism that the agency is taking on a role better suited for Congress. If adopted, the rules could impose significant new responsibilities on businesses that handle consumer data, including potentially barring certain kinds of data collection and handling practices. While the FTC’s rule-making process is just beginning, opposition is already lining up from the US Chamber of Commerce, NetChoice (an industry-supported group that advocates for free-market principles on the internet), and Members of Congress.

FTC Launches Effort to Expand Online Privacy Protections FTC Explores Rules Cracking Down on Commercial Surveillance and Lax Data Security Practices (FTC) Sen Wicker Statement on FTC Notice on Privacy Chairman Pallone on FTC’s Advanced Proposed Rulemaking on Privacy