Commissioners of the FTC have again called on the United States Congress to put together a privacy law that would lead to the regulation of technology companies and how they handle user data. The FTC members also want the lawmakers to give the agency more power and resources to tackle violations and impose penalties on offenders.
FTC Members Call for the Creation of a Privacy Law
While speaking before the United States House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, the FTC members urged the Congress to put together a national privacy law. The law would regulate how tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and others collect and manage their user information.
The commissioners also asked for more power and resources for the FTC to enable it to supervise violations and impose penalties on offenders. The FTC Chair, Joseph Simons told the House committee.
Lawmakers in the United States are pondering over the creation of a national law that would regulate how tech companies collect and manage user data. However, progress has stagnated due to differences in specific details.
The Facebook Case Causes a Rift Amongst FTC Commissioners
The FTC is currently in settlement talks with social media giant, Facebook over its privacy violations in 2011. Facebook is expecting a fine of between $3 billion to $5 billion, which would be the most significant penalty against a tech company.
However, the five commissioners, three Republicans, and two Democrats have been divided on how to impose the punishment. The Democratic commissioners are pressing for a stiff penalty, which should send a message that tech companies violating privacy regulations would need to change ways. They also want the FTC to hold top executives liable when a company goes against the privacy rules.
According to one of the Democratic commissioners, Rohit Chopra, the strong penalty should include the individuals that decided to violate the privacy law. However, the Republican commissioners are calling for a calm approach to the situation.
Christine Wilson, a Republican FTC Commissioner, pointed out that stiff penalties could have unintended consequences. She noted that some of the privacy regulations would have more negative effects on small tech companies than their more-established counterparts such as Facebook and Google.
Another Republican member of the FTC, Noah Phillips, advised the Congress and the agency to be cautious when dealing with the privacy situation. During a break at the hearing, Philips stated that the agency needs to figure out the exact problem that needed to be solved. After the hearing, the FTC Chairman said he could consider naming top executives in privacy violation cases. However, it would depend on the circumstances.
The United States continues to lag behind European countries in curbing the power of big tech firms. Representative Kathy Castor from Florida was one of the lawmakers on Wednesday urging the FTC to seek more substantial fines and stronger business penalties against companies that violate the privacy regulations.