Speaking at the Technology Policy Institute’s annual conference, Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez warned companies housing large amounts of data that the FTC would take action when consumer privacy is exposed. The FTC has already brought suits against Google and Facebook in recent years, resulting in settlements that indicate the FTC is serious about the protection of consumer privacy. Further, the FTC is lobbying Congress to pass “baseline privacy legislation” based upon the principles of privacy-by-design, simplified choice, and greater transparency. Lastly, the FTC has also urged Congress to arm the FTC with the ability to impose civil penalties against companies that “fail to maintain reasonable security.”
With the looming threat of increased FTC enforcement, companies may be more inclined to prioritize the protection of consumer privacy. Ramirez’s remarks show the FTC’s commitment to data security. In light of that, companies should aim to appease the FTC’s wishes to avoid penalties and/or lawsuits. Moreover, a recent research study indicates increasing dissatisfaction with the data security measures provided by technology companies. Accordingly, companies with access to large amounts of consumer data may want to ensure the privacy of such data strictly to satisfy their customers, regardless of any threats made by the FTC.