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What you need to know

  • Several U.S. senators have presented the FTC with a letter urging better privacy protections.
  • The letter calls for a "national standard for data privacy and security."
  • Current enforcement policies were criticized for not doing enough to deter companies from failing to protect consumer privacy.

Several U.S. Democrats have reached out to the FTC in a letter calling for better rulemaking on consumer privacy and security.

The letter was addressed to the recently appointed FTC Chair Lina Khan and led by Senator Richard Blumenthal alongside eight other U.S. Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory A. Booker.

In the letter, the senators complain that data privacy has become a problem in the U.S. as Big Tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook continue to flaunt their "unchecked access" to private consumer data.

Americans' identities have become the currency in an unregulated, hidden economy of data brokers that buy and sell sensitive information about their families, religious beliefs, healthcare needs, and every movement to shadowy interests, often without their awareness and consent.

The letter urges the FTC to implement better rulemaking to help safeguard consumer data and ensure that Americans "have every tool at their disposal" to do so themselves.

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Senators point to large-scale data breaches as a sign that consumers need better data protection. Although it wasn't named, the recent T-Mobile data breach is the most recent example of this, as it left more than 40 million consumer accounts exposed.

The call for tighter rules around data and privacy protection comes just days after the FTC announced changes that allow the public to petition for new rules in an effort to give consumers more say in the agency's regulatory process.

It also comes weeks after Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and others met with President Biden to kickstart a joint initiative to enhance national cybersecurity efforts, with Google pledging $10 billion towards the initiative.

Android Central has reached out to the FTC for comment and will update if we hear back.

The letter calls out Big Tech for failing to live up to promises to protect consumers while also criticizing the minimal penalties these companies face, "only to receive wrist-slap punishments after long delay."

If the FTC chooses to implement tighter rules, it could put more pressure on Big Tech companies, especially while they're already under increased scrutiny for practices around consumer data and privacy, particularly from Khan herself.