AG Paxton Urges FTC to Consider the Role of Consumer Privacy in Antitrust Enforcement

Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and 41 other state attorneys general, filed a bi-partisan comment with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

urging a renewed focus on consumer privacy and data in antitrust enforcement actions against dominant technology platforms that collect and leverage consumer data.

The comment explains that popular data-driven platforms like Google and Facebook offer what they describe as free products to consumers and then collect enormous amounts of consumer data. Although no money is changing hands, consumers are paying for goods and services with their data and surrendering a measure of their privacy when they do so.

Even when the product is free, consumers can be harmed when a technology platform misuses consumer data, reduces product quality or privacy protections, or fails to invest in innovation. Accordingly, the comment suggests that the FTC give renewed antitrust attention to these technology platform markets, including the ways in which privacy policies or mergers can affect the quality of products in these markets.

“Information about how everyday people spend their lives and their money has become extremely valuable, especially when aggregated into large sets and analyzed and packaged for targeted marketing,” Attorney General Paxton said. “But technology platforms often lack the incentive to provide strong privacy protections for consumers, and their dominant position in user data creates barriers to entry for new competitors. State attorneys general and the FTC can work together to protect consumer privacy and competition for free products with vigorous enforcement of state and federal antitrust laws.”

The comment was filed today at the FTC’s invitation ahead of this Wednesday’s round table with state attorneys general hosted by the FTC at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

 

 

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