|Lina Khan, a vocal critic of the tech industry and antitrust expert has been sworn in as the new Chair of the Federal Trade Commission.
She is a proponent of aggressive antitrust enforcement, including against large and prominent tech companies. While a federal judge recently dismissed the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, the agency has until late July to file a new complaint. Under Khan’s leadership, many observers expect the Commission to do so.
In her April confirmation hearing Khan expressed concern about behavioral advertising, “There are some really interesting questions to be asked specific to behavioral ad-based business models, insofar as these business models really incentivize endless vacuuming up of data. I worry that in some cases, some of these companies may think it’s just worth the cost of business to actually violate privacy laws.”
Soon after her becoming Chair, the commissioners voted 3-2 to streamline its process to develop new rules for unfair or deceptive business practices under Section 18 of the FTC Act. The changes include shifting oversight of the process from an administrative law judge to the FTC chair, eliminating a staff report on proceedings and cutting some public comment periods. The new process would govern any new rules developed by the Commission on data privacy.
In a related action, President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order that includes a provision urging the FTC to consider issuing regulations regarding “unfair data collection and surveillance practices that may damage competition, consumer autonomy, and consumer privacy.”
AAF continues to believe consumers, businesses and the economy benefit from the responsible use of data. The AAF supported Privacy for America Coalition recently published a blog post highlighting the unintended consequences of restricting responsible data use.
AAF and Privacy for America support the passage of federal privacy legislation. Numerous bills have been introduced in Congress. One of the most recent is the Data Protection Act by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill would create an independent Data Protection Agency to “protect Americans’ data, safeguard their privacy, and ensure data practices that are fair and transparent.”