Data Privacy & Cybersecurity » Get Ready for FTC Commercial Surveillance Rules

Get Ready for FTC Commercial Surveillance Rules

May 13, 2024

Get Ready for FTC Commercial Surveillance Rules

The Federal Trade Commission is aiming to publish proposed rules governing commercial surveillance within months, according to an article in The Record. They will have a huge impact on privacy because they will “establish bright lines around what is and isn’t permissible,” thus marking a departure from the current practice of piecemeal enforcement actions.

Citing insider sources, the article says a major emphasis will be on data security and data minimization, and a core message for companies will be: Collect only what you need, and delete it when it’s no longer needed. Also expected are rules pertaining to “algorithmic accountability.” That means companies will face consequences from decisions and actions based on algorithms, and there could be civil rights protections in the event of algorithmic errors.

New rules are long overdue, suggests FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter in a published notice, excerpts of which are quoted in the article. “Data abuses,” she writes, “such as surreptitious biometric or location tracking, unaccountable and discriminatory algorithmic decision-making, or lax data security practices have been either caused by, exacerbated by, or are in service of nearly unfettered commercial data collection, retention, use, and sharing.”

That “unfettered data collection” of Americans, according to Slaughter, occurs under almost every imaginable circumstance, including “when they buy groceries, do homework, or apply for car insurance,” and the collected data includes “their movements, prayers, friends, menstrual cycles, web-browsing, and faces…”

After the proposed commercial surveillance rules are published and before any new rule is formalized, the FTC will hold a hearing in which public comment will be taken.

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