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GAO: FTC Needs New Authority to Better Secure Consumer Data Online

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The Government Accountability Office said the Federal Trade Commission needs a new internet privacy law that would expand the agency’s authority to protect consumer data from unfair and deceptive trade practices. A GAO report published on Thursday highlighted the outdated regulations that the commission uses to govern the collection, use and sale of consumers’ personal information.

Existing regulations for internet privacy only focus on the financial sector and children. Any new legislation should establish new and specific standards to include wider consumer privacy, the report stated.

The FTC needs to implement traditional notice-and-comment rulemaking and carry broader civil penalty authority to further protect consumer data, according to the report. Some stakeholders and consumer advocates called on the government to create a new data protection agency under the FTC.

However, industry representatives interviewed by the GAO said enforcing new regulations could delay innovation and that the commission’s authority already provides flexibility.