WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Federal Trade Commission is launching a new effort aimed at limiting and protecting the data online companies collect.
FTC Chair Linda Khan said her agency will soon begin working on new rules that she says will protect Americans from growing online surveillance. She said companies collect and can sell “a stunning array of contexts on our location, our health, what we read online, who we meet, what we buy.”
Data privacy advocates, who have been sounding the alarm for years, applauded the FTC’s announcement.
“It’s a really positive move,” said Keir Lamont of the Future Privacy Forum. “We are currently one of the few major economies in the world that lacks a comprehensive framework for governing the collection and use of personal information.”
He argued federal privacy laws must be updated to close loopholes.
“For example … data on your medical records is protected by federal law but equally sensitive data from your fitness tracker would lack those same protections,” Lamont said.
Groups like NetChoice, which represents online giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook, say the FTC has gone political and that consumers will ultimately pay the price.
“It’s just an attack on advertising,” Carl Szabo of NetChoice said, noting that advertising is what prevents online companies from having to charge fees. “They’re happy to throw away the free services that we enjoy every single day because the Democrat commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission are part of that elite class who are more than happy to pay subscription fees.”
The FTC will holds its first public forum on the matter Sept. 8.
“We are very, very eager to hear from the public,” Khan said.