Public Knowledge Urges FTC Chairman Ohlhausen to Protect Consumer Privacy

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Today, Public Knowledge joined Consumer Federation of America, Center For Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of California, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in a letter urging Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen to protect consumer privacy. Public Knowledge along with other consumer groups filed a complaint with the FTC last year, alleging that the nation’s cable and satellite providers deceive consumers about their privacy practices.

The complaint details evidence that cable and satellite providers fail to provide adequate notice of the extent they collect and share consumer information, a clear violation of Section 5 under the FTC Act. Since the complaint was filed, leading broadband providers, cable, and telephone companies have significantly expanded their ability to gather, analyze and make actionable data that is used to target subscribers, their families, and other consumers.

The letter follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s recent decision to grant an en banc rehearing of its FTC v. AT&T Mobility decision, which originally cast doubt on the FTC’s enforcement capabilities over common carriers. This en banc rehearing allows the FTC to continue policing the non-common carrier activities of entities that provide a common carrier service.

The following can be attributed to Yosef Getachew, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“Acting Chairman Ohlhausen has made numerous statements indicating she is eager to demonstrate the ability of the FTC to protect consumer privacy in the telecommunications sector. The 9th Circuit’s recently vacated decision allows the FTC to go forward on enforcement actions concerning the non-common carrier activities of communications providers.

“Addressing our complaint provides the FTC an immediate opportunity to clarify whether the FTC does or does not have the authority to protect our digital privacy. In a recent Harvard-Harris poll, 9 in 10 Americans think they have less privacy today than they did 10 years ago, and 90% agree that companies have more access to their personal information than they are comfortable with. Americans need to know what protections they can count on, and they need to know now.

We encourage FTC Acting Chairman Ohlhausen to let Americans know where their online privacy protections stand by responding to our complaint.”

You may view the letter as well as the initial complaint for more information.

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