Data privacy has become a major issue in the last few years and both average consumers and government entities want to do something about it. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was releasing its proposed data privacy and data security rules, one senator was urging the FTC to do more.

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley wrote a letter to Joseph Simons, chairman of the FTC, urging the commission to do more to protect consumers’ data privacy and inform Congress of any gaps in its authority.

Data privacy FTC

Hawley begins the letter by stating, “For too long our nation has put off accounting for the price we paid in return for the benefits of the online platforms that now dominate American culture and industry. These debates cross party lines, implicating election integrity, free speech, privacy, competition and many other issues. But these debates include a central, shared concern that the new custodians of once-difuse information have abused the power they amassed and neglected their responsibility.”

He went on to write that the FTC “has a special role to play in protecting consumers, but it too has failed us. Any robust definition of consumer welfare must acknowledge that these companies have harmed consumers by conditioning participation in the modern public square on giving away enormous — and growing — amounts of personal information and by leveraging scale to cripple emerging competitors in their infancy. Yet the approach the FTC has taken to these issues has been toothless.”

Hawley said he appreciated the limits of the FTC and that Congress primarily was responsible for those limits. However, he stated that he was concerned that the FTC has not investigated these companies and enforced the law as vigorously as it should.

“I urge you to investigate and act to stop the abuses I have documented, and myriad others I have left unmentioned, with all appropriate speed,” he said. “At the earliest possible date, alert Congress to all apparent gaps in your authority that stymie such work. There is no excuse for inaction, by the commission or by Congress. I hope to work together with you to address these challenges.”

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