GAO Recommends that FTC Take the Lead in Protecting Internet Privacy

The Government Accountability Office released Additional Federal Authority Could Enhance Consumer Protection and Provide Flexibility GAO-19-52, a report recommending that Congress consider enacting a federal internet privacy law in the United States. The 56-page independent report was requested by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on data privacy on February 26, during which it plans to discuss the GAO’s findings. The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a similar hearing on February 27th.

What GAO Found: “The United States does not have a comprehensive Internet privacy law governing the collection, use, and sale or other disclosure of consumers’ personal information. At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission currently has the lead in overseeing Internet privacy, using its statutory authority under the FTC Act to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices. However, to date FTC has not issued regulations for Internet privacy other than those protecting financial privacy and the Internet privacy of children, which were required by law. For FTC Act violations, FTC may promulgate regulations but is required to use procedures that differ from traditional notice-and-comment processes and that FTC staff said add time and complexity.” Here’s the report: Additional Federal Authority Could Enhance Consumer Protection and Provide Flexibility, GAO-19-52 (2019).

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