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Earlier today, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it will host a series of public hearings on whether “broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection enforcement law, enforcement priorities, and policy.”

FTC Chairman Joe Simons noted that “important and significant questions recently have been raised about whether we should rethink our approach to some of these issues,” and expressed that “[w]e are excited about this new hearings project, and anticipate and look forward to substantial participation from our stakeholders.”

The FTC’s press release noted that the “multi-day, multi-part hearings” will be similar to the FTC’s “Global Competition and Innovation Hearings,” which took place in 1995 at the direction of then-Chairman Robert Pitofsky.  Those hearings were held to address “whether there have been broad-based changes in the contemporary competitive environment that require any adjustments in antitrust and consumer protection enforcement in order to keep pace with those changes.”  The 1995 hearings resulted in a two-volume report, released in May 1996, articulating the FTC’s analysis and recommendations on competition and consumer protection policy.
Continue Reading FTC Announces Series of Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection

On April 24, 2018, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act of 2018.  The bill aims to protect consumers’ online data by increasing the transparency of data collection and tracking practices, and requiring companies to notify consumers of a privacy violation within 72 hours.

“Our bill gives consumers more control over their private data, requires user agreements to be written in plain English and requires companies to notify users of privacy violations,” Senator Kennedy explained. “These are just simple steps that online platforms should have implemented in the first place.”

Other features of the legislation include providing consumers a right of access to see what information about them has been collected and used, allowing consumers to opt out of data collection and tracking, and requiring online platforms to have a privacy program in place.  Senator Klobuchar explained that “[c]onsumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked and alerting them within 72 hours when a privacy violation occurs and their personal information may be compromised.” 
Continue Reading Senators Klobuchar and Kennedy Introduce Privacy Legislation