Warner on FTC Decision to Launch Sweeping Study of Major Technology Platforms' Data Collection and Business Practices
Dec 14 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its decision to conduct a study on the privacy and wider business practices of major technology platforms – a move that Sen. Warner has long advocated:
“As I have impressed upon Chairman Simons in the past, an effort by the FTC to systematically study the data collection and business practices of the largest technology platforms is long overdue. Policymakers and regulators – not to mention consumers – are totally in the dark about how their data is being collected and monetized; about the metrics used to measure their attention, engagement, and value to the platform; and about the ways in which these platforms design their products to maximize data collection, ad revenue, and user engagement. I applaud Chairman Simons and the Commission for this important step in bringing sunlight to what has far too long been an opaque market, vulnerable to abuse, digital ad fraud, and consumer harm.”
Sen. Warner, a former technology entrepreneur, is one of the leading voices in Congress on technology issues. He has authored and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. One of these bills, the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, would require data-harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and provide granular details about how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit as part of their quarterly financial disclosures. The bipartisan Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act would prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data or consenting to unfair terms of service. Additionally, the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act would encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and would allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose. Since 2016, Sen. Warner has repeatedly encouraged the Commission to take stronger actions to address digital ad fraud, including by better understanding the opaque and concentrated digital advertising market that has turned a blind eye to such activity.