FTC's Simons: We Need Rulemaking Authority

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons told the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee that the Federal Trade Commission needs three things to protect consumer privacy.

That came in an oversight hearing Tuesday (Nov. 27).

Those are: 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.

Related: Blumenthal: Big Tech May Have to Get Smaller

Currently, the FTC has to sue or settle with alleged violators, then monitor enforcement of the settlements it secures.

Simons also said Congress needed to come up with legislation on collection, use and sharing of data that still fosters competition and innovation, legislation that the FTC would enforce.

"This process understandably will involve difficult value judgments and trade-offs that are appropriately left to Congress," he said. "No matter the specific laws Congress enacts in the privacy and/or data security arenas, the Commission commits to using its extensive expertise and experience to enforce them vigorously, consistent with its ongoing and bipartisan emphasis on privacy and data security enforcement."

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.