Democrats ask FTC to fix data privacy 'crisis'

Democrats ask FTC to fix data privacy 'crisis'
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop new rules to protect data privacy amid stalled progress on a national framework.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) led a letter signed by eight of his colleagues to FTC Chairwoman Lina KhanLina KhanFTC warns of 'significant financial penalties' if for-profit colleges deceive students Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Senators gear up for Facebook hearing Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' MORE on Monday requesting new rules targeted at strengthening privacy, boosting civil rights and creating guardrails on the collection of consumer data.

The letter says that "consumer privacy has become a consumer crisis" and calls out Big Tech companies for having "unchecked access to private personal information" that they use to "create in-depth profiles about nearly all Americans and to protect their market position against competition from startups."

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It argues that attempts to punish firms that violate existing data privacy rules have been insufficient.

"We believe that a national standard for data privacy and security is urgently needed to protect consumers, reinforce civil rights, and safeguard our nation’s cybersecurity," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. 

Monday’s letter signals an intention to sidestep failed efforts to push a federal data privacy framework through Congress.

Rulemaking through the FTC could dodge disagreements over the role of individuals in enforcing privacy rules and how a national rule set would interact with existing state standards.

The FTC declined to comment on the letter.