Next Century Cities Submits Comments Urging the Federal Trade Commission to Enact Clear and Transparent Surveillance and Data Collection Policies

In August 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking the public comment on whether new rules are needed to address potential harms from commercial surveillance and inadequate data security practices. The agency is concerned that companies have strong incentives to develop products and services that track and surveil consumers’ online activities and often misuse or mishandle sensitive consumer data. Next Century Cities agrees. The FTC should impose clear policies that curb deceptive data management practices. 

On November 18, 2022, NCC filed comments highlighting why the Commission is best positioned to investigate commercial surveillance, data security practices, and their impact on consumer privacy. Poor data collection, sharing, and monetization protocols have wide-reaching effects and result in discriminatory advertising, racially biased policing, and the outing or surveillance of historically marginalized groups. 

The breadth of the well-documented harms warrants federal safeguards that help eliminate predatory and discriminatory practices online. NCC recommends that the FTC set standards and enforce a consumer’s right to privacy. Specifically, NCC urges the agency to:

  1. Develop universal guidance on data management and consumer consent policies;
  2. Audit a company’s consumer consent processes on an annual basis;
  3. Develop a framework for businesses that outlines safe data collection procedures; 
  4. Develop protocols for secure data management that minimize cybersecurity concerns;
  5. Build a database in which consumers are able to search where and how their data is being collected and if personally identifiable information (name, address, etc.) is being traded online; 
  6. Establish an advisory committee to guide the FTC on the recommendations listed above; and
  7. Create a dedicated Internet Bureau to centralize resources for online related policy and enforcement.

While collecting data financially benefits companies, it exposes consumers to harm via error, deception, or abuse. As local and state governments work feverishly to onboard millions of Americans into the online ecosystem, implementing consumer safeguards should be a top priority for the FTC and businesses it regulates. 

Read the November 18th filing here.

Questions about our events?

Don’t Forget