data privacy

U.S. FTC needs rulemaking to protect privacy and civil rights

Today, Access Now joined Free Press and partner organizations in calling on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate a rulemaking to protect privacy, promote civil rights, and set data protection standards. This call aligns with Senators’ request for the same rulemaking process.

How data is collected, processed, and shared has a direct impact on economic opportunities and falls squarely within the FTC’s authority. Companies use personal data to enable and even perpetuate discriminatory practices against people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, religious minorities, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups. 

“Despite exhaustive debate, the U.S. Congress has failed to protect our data and civil rights online,” said Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Analyst at Access Now. “The FTC can fill this void by passing robust rules covering everything from non-discrimination to data minimization to surveillance advertising. It’s time for action.”

“As people in the United States are learning more and more about how platforms are abusing their data, they should also know that the FTC has the authority to act right now to protect them,” said Carmen Scurato, Associate Legal Director and Senior Counsel at Free Press. “Through a rulemaking process, the agency can build a record of the harms and put in place guardrails against discriminatory and dangerous data practices that disproportionately impact people of color. We’ve read enough stories about companies like Facebook that weaponize our data and put profits before our civil rights. Now the FTC must act.”

To address exploitation and abuse online, the FTC should especially consider enforcing data minimization safeguards to protect privacy rights.