New FTC Commissioner Could Change Regulatory Approach

New FTC Commissioner Could Change Regulatory Approach

Alvaro Bedoya was sworn in as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week. His term will expire on Sept. 25, 2026. Commissioner Bedoya will replace former Commissioner Rohit Chopra, who now heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote for the longtime privacy law professor after a 50-50 tie at the Senate.

Bedoya’s appointment ends a political stalemate at the FTC, as Bedoya joins FTC Commissioners Rebecca Slaughter, and FTC Chair Lina Khan to create a 3-2 Democratic majority. With that majority comes a new regulatory and enforcement agenda for the FTC. In a statement made prior to Bedoya’s confirmation, Lina Khan applauded Biden’s nomination, stating “Alvaro’s knowledge, experience, and energy will be a great asset to the FTC as we pursue our critical work.”

That experience is extensive. Bedoya previously served as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and Counsel and Chief Counsel to former Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota. He’s also the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, where he is currently a visiting professor of law.

Bedoya has also been influential in research and policy in the areas of privacy and technology and co-authored a 2016 report on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and the risks that it poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights.

And perhaps most notably, Bedoya isn’t one to shy away from calling out big tech companies. In a 2018 New York Times op-ed, he took aim at Silicon Valley, criticizing tech companies for claiming to protect privacy in public while donating millions of dollars toward lobbyists to undermine consumer privacy. Bedoya specifically highlighted Facebook’s efforts to undermine the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, a state law that serves as one of few meaningful biometric privacy protections in the U.S.

How should businesses act now to plan for compliance?

The FTC exists to promote competition, and to protect and educate consumers. Given this vast mandate, organizations should be mindful of the FTC’s ambitious agenda, and its stated future “adjustments in approach,” as they navigate compliance counseling, M&A transactions, and ongoing agency investigations.

Bedoya brings his pro-consumer privacy agenda to an agency that is prepared to take aggressive action against the tech industry and other corporate giants. Lina Khan has been a longtime advocate for stricter regulations that would limit Silicon Valley’s power over commerce and personal data.

But it’s not just tech companies that could feel the brunt of more consumer-focused regulations. Given the FTC’s broad directive and the sheer scope of its reach, organizations would do well to assess which of their data collection practices could be harmful to consumers. The best way to do that is to comply with GDPR and CCPA, which you can read more about here, and to consider participating in the rulemaking process to offer real-world, practical evidence to build a more complete record. More to come.

 

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To read our coverage on the California Age Appropriate Design Code Bill (AB 2273), which requires companies to consider the privacy and protection of children in the design of digital products and services, click here.

For ADCG’s Breach Report and more news updates discussing: the National Association of Attorneys General announcement of a new initiative focused on cybersecurity; the Federal Trade Commission releases a policy statement last week outlining its new regulations for education technology companies; the Security and Exchange Commission laid out its regulatory agenda last week at the Securities Enforcement Forum West 2022; Privacy Expert Jeff Jockish discussion at last week’s Data Summit 2022 in Boston where he spoke on a range of topics relevant to data privacy, click here.

Jeff Jockisch also joins us this week on our Podcast to discuss the Data Collaboration Alliance. Our Podcasts are released every Thursday, here. They can also be enjoyed on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

To browse through our previously published articles and news alerts, please visit our website, and don’t forget to subscribe to receive free weekly Data and Cyber Governance news and Breach Reports directly to your email.

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