FTC Getting Hill Privacy Once-Over

The House Consumer Protection Subcommittee has scheduled an FTC oversight hearing for next week.

The May 8 hearing is called “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Strengthening Protections for Americans’ Privacy and Data Security," an issue much on the minds of Washington given that the FTC is being pressed to get tougher on edge providers and has inherited ISP privacy oversight with the reclassification of internet access by the FCC as a Title I information service.

“FTC needs more enforcement power, rulemaking authority, and resources to effectively safeguard Americans’ privacy and data security," said Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jan Schakowsy (D-Ill.) and parent committee chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). "That’s why Congress must act to ensure that FTC has the tools it needs to protect consumers,” Pallone and Schakowsky. "This oversight hearing is a critical step in the Committee’s process for crafting comprehensive data privacy and security legislation."

The FTC is under pressure from Capitol Hill to enforce consent decrees with edge providers and to look hard at whether the size of Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple and Twitter--have antitrust implications the FTC may have missed in the rise of those companies from scrappy garage startups to companies trying to mine the world's data and with market caps on par with the GDP (rather than GDPR) of some countries.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons told the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee last fall that the Federal Trade Commission needs three things to better protect consumer privacy, 1) rulemaking authority; 2) civil penalty authority—currently it can only try and make consumers whole for losses, not penalize the conduct responsible; and 3) jurisdiction over nonprofits and common carriers.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.