Senate Democrats call on FTC to fix data privacy ‘crisis’

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‘Consumer privacy has become a consumer crisis’

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Senate Democrats are calling the Federal Trade Commission write new rules to protect consumer data privacy in a new letter to the agency written Monday.


The letter, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and signed by eight other Democratic senators, was sent Monday to FTC Chair Lena Khan, calling on the agency to “start a rule-making process” on privacy. . Specifically, senators are requesting that the FTC pen new rules addressing privacy, civil rights, and the collection of consumer data.

“Consumer privacy has become a consumer crisis,” the lawmakers wrote. “Tech companies have routinely broken their promises to consumers and neglected their legal obligations, only to receive wrist-slap penalties after protracted delays, with little respite to consumers and minimal deterrent effect. “

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The FTC declined to comment.

The letter comes just days after President Joe Biden nominated Alvaro Bedoya, a longtime privacy and facial recognition critic, to become the third Democratic FTC commissioner. At Georgetown Law, Bedoya led research on the effects of technologies such as facial recognition on minority groups and conducted several surveys studying the technology’s potential for racial bias.

Bedoya is a professor at Georgetown Law’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and previously served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law under Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

The Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for Bedoya, but he will likely help the FTC make any future rules regarding privacy.

Congress has tried and failed to draft its own data privacy law over the years, and creating an FTC rule may be the government’s best chance to regulate the industry in light of tense partisan divisions. In July, the FTC voted to update the agency’s rule-making processes in a way that would make it easier to issue comprehensive privacy rules on its own.

“The consumer digital economy deserves strong and enforceable privacy safeguards – creating a rule would be a powerful step toward addressing this long-overdue need,” the lawmakers wrote in their Monday letter.

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