The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is targeting “corporate surveillance,” wherein companies profit from the data they collect on consumers.
Corporate surveillance has become a growing problem, with companies collecting vast quantities of consumer data — often without the individual knowing — and then sharing or selling the data to data brokers and other entities. Obviously, the more data is collected, the more vulnerable individuals become to online threats, identify theft, and more, as the FTC makes clear.
Commercial surveillance is the business of collecting, analyzing, and profiting from information about people. Technologies essential to everyday life also enable near constant surveillance of people’s private lives. The volume of data collected exposes people to identity thieves and hackers. Mass surveillance has heightened the risks and stakes of errors, deception, manipulation, and other abuses.
In response, the FTC is investigating whether new rules are needed and soliciting public feedback on the matter.
The Federal Trade Commission is asking the public to weigh in on whether new rules are needed to protect people’s privacy and information in the commercial surveillance economy.
Consumer and privacy rights groups have long called for the US to crack down on data brokers and other shady data collection practices. Even corporate executives have called for the US to take action and roll out comprehensive privacy laws.
The FTC’s public inquiry may be the first step toward US consumers finally being protected from predatory corporate surveillance.