data protection

Advocates to U.S. Congress: Fund FTC to combat data abuse

Today, Access Now joined a coalition of civil society organizations to support the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee’s proposal to increase the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) funding by $1 billion over 10 years. The funding would be used to create a new FTC bureau that will focus on policing privacy, security, and data abuse matters. 

“Privacy and data protection issues have human rights and racial equity implications,” said Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Analyst at Access Now. “With such paltry funding and staffing, the FTC has been forced to ration its limited resources to focus on cases with the biggest impact, likely letting many violators off the hook. Increased funding will allow the Commission to hire more staff and take more cases that help reduce racial inequity.”

Earlier this year, the Commission took its first step toward a more robust approach to Artificial Intelligence and automated decision-making when it announced that creating or using a discriminatory algorithm could be considered an unfair practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act. With the creation of a new division tailored to tackling privacy, security, and data abuses, the increasing number of companies wielding discriminatory algorithms could finally be held to account. 

Algorithms need good data, not all data. Communities of color suffer severe harm when the most vital decisions — from hiring to loan approvals and access to healthcare — are left up to opaque blackbox algorithms. To address these and other harms, the FTC should consider enforcing data minimization safeguards to protect privacy rights.