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FTC urges a ‘rethink’ of data privacy at hearing

Joe Mont | October 3, 2018

At a Senate hearing last month, executives from some of the nation’s top tech companies—among them Twitter, AT&T, Google, and Apple—repeated a common refrain during their testimony on consumer privacy protections. With near unanimity, they urged lawmakers considering federal data privacy legislation to vest those powers in the Federal Trade Commission.

Although some retreated a bit when discussions turned to enhanced enforcement powers for the agency, the vote of confidence shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. For decades, the FTC has positioned itself, within the boundaries of its statutory authority, as a top cop on the consumer tech beat.

In 1995—long before Facebook, iPhones, or Google—then-Chairman Robert Pitofsky held a series of hearings that investigated the new breed of emerging high-tech companies and how his agency could best “deter unfair and deceptive conduct in privacy and data security matters.”

Fast forward to 2012, and the FTC issued an...

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