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With changing US privacy laws, the FTC is reviewing its rules

While the country remains without national legislation addressing the issue, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reconsidering its current rules to regulate data privacy for U.S. citizens.

"The realities of how firms surveil, categorize, and monetize user data in the modern economy invite us to consider how we might need to update our approach further yet," FTC Chair Lina Khan said Monday at the International Association of Privacy Professionals' (IAPP) Global Privacy Summit. She mentioned rulemaking as a possibility for the agency, as well as existing laws that could be updated to reflect the modern privacy landscape.

Khan did not say whether the FTC would consider launching a rulemaking to give the US a comprehensive data privacy law, as some members of Congress have requested. Many people believe that such important legislation should be crafted by elected officials rather than regulators, especially now that Utah has joined California, Colorado, and Virginia in enacting their own privacy laws.

During a separate session at the IAPP's conference, Republican FTC Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips stated that the responsibility should remain with Congress.

"The attitude that the more rules we make, the better society will be, I don’t think is right," he said, according to the IAPP. "One of the big reasons is competition. One of the rules we may adopt may be bad for competition. Sometimes it’s worth it to offset competition to avoid some kind of harm. "

The FTC is taking "an interdisciplinary approach, assessing data practices through both a consumer protection and competition lens.," Khan said during her speech. "Given the intersecting ways in which widescale data collection and commercial surveillance practices can facilitate violations of both consumer protection and antitrust laws, we are keen to marshal our expertise in both areas to ensure we are grasping the full implications of particular business conduct and strategies ."

Khan stated that the FTC is considering initiating rulemaking to address commercial surveillance and lax data security practices, as well as other privacy-related actions currently underway. She also expressed her concern that the current "notice and consent" model is "outdated and insufficient," citing the importance of modern technology in daily life as limiting consumers' options.

"The central role that digital tools will only continue to play invites us to consider whether we want to live in a society where firms can condition access to critical technologies and opportunities on users surrendering to commercial surveillance," she said, adding that Congress could pass national privacy legislation to address the issue.

According to Khan, the FTC is focusing on impact and defining effective remedies as part of its enforcement strategy under its current authority. She stated that the agency has increased its hiring of technologists to ensure that their expertise is used alongside lawyers, economists, and investigators when taking action.



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