Privacy, consumer, civil rights, media-democracy groups seek FTC data-use regulations


Privacy Beat

Your weekly privacy news update.

VIEW IN YOUR BROWSER, the media-democracy nonprofit, led letter to FTC

Privacy, consumer, civil rights, media-democracy groups seek FTC data-use regs; where are ad and tech interests? 

A seemingly powerful coalition of 45 major civil rights, consumer, media-democracy and privacy groups is urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to begin making rules that would control the collection and use of individual user data in web and digital services. Conspicuously absent from the plea is any group representing ad-tech, data-tech or advertising interests. 

The Oct. 27 letter, led by and sent to all FTC commissioners,  (LETTER TEXT | also see Quote of the Week, below) seeks FTC regulation that would apply to “the entire life cycle of data—collection, use, management, retention, and deletion“ and specific restrictions based on the types of personal data involved, the particular uses of the data, and the entities utilizing and sharing the data.

It was signed by Free Press, Access Humbolt, Access Now Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE), the American Civil Liberties Unio,  Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Center for American Progress and Center for Countering Digital Hate. 

Also, Center for Democracy & Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, Common Cause, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Decode Democracy,  Demand Progress Education Fund, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fairplay, Fight for the Future, Friends of the Earth, Kairos Action, Liberation in a Generation, Media Alliance, Media Matters for America, MediaJustice, Muslim Advocates, National Consumers League and National Hispanic Media Coalition. 

Also, National Latinx Psychological Association, Next Century Cities,  NTEN, NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy,  Open Markets Institute, Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative), Open Technology Institute, PEN America, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Public Knowledge, Ranking Digital Rights, SumOfUs, The Greenlining Institute, UltraViolet and Upturn.




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Claire Atkin and Nandini Jammi in photo announcing nonprofit institute

Atkin, Jammi form nonprofit Check My Ads Institute to better expose advertisers inadvertently funding “disinformation

A duo that for the last several years has been dogging advertisers to stop allowing their messages to appear on sleazy websites is taking a new approach. They have formed a nonprofit Check My Ads Institute and are seeking funders and members to advance their watchdog work. Claire Atkin and Nandini Jammi announced their move in an Oct. 27 blog report entitled, “We’re Ready to Rip the Heart Out of the Disinformation Economy.” 

They argue that when brands use programmatic advertising technology some of their messages end up on websites that originate or promote “disinformation” — reports based on opinion or challenged facts that tend to incite anger, division or political advocacy. Their institute will, they write, “cut disinformation off from its lifeline: ads.”  They continue: “[T]he advertising supply chain is the ATM of the disinformation economy. And it’s a world that is just as sinister as Facebook, if not more.”

The problem, their blog says, is that the programmatic advertising system is so bloated and opaque that the advertisers themselves have trouble finding out where their ads are going and the ad-tech companies like it that way. Their solution is to check and reveal questionable ad placements systematically so advertisers can take action. 

“As you might guess, the adtech industry is in no hurry to fix itself,” they write. “The trade organizations that are supposed to be fixing the problem are all stuffed with Facebook and Google executives.

Check My Ads Institute was incorporated July 14 in Delaware, records show.  It has a four-member board.





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Forty-five consumer, civil-rights and privacy groups argue why FTC should regulate data collection,use

  • Below are excerpts of a letter dated Oct. 27 sent to Lina Khan, chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, by most major consumer privacy rights lobbying organizations, asking the FTC to establish “clear safeguards on the collection and use of personal data in the digital economy.” 

“How data is collected, processed and shared has a direct impact on civil rights and economic opportunities and falls squarely within the Commission’s authority. Companies use personal data to enable and even perpetuate discriminatory practices against people of color, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, religious minorities, persons with disabilities, persons living on low income, immigrants and other marginalized groups. Companies also use personal data to track, confuse, trick, and exploit individuals for commercial gain.

“It is well documented that discriminatory and abusive data practices are prevalent, indicating a widespread pattern of unfair or deceptive practices across all major spheres of everyday life of commerce, including employment, finance, healthcare, credit, insurance, housing and education. These practices are embedded in every sector of society and especially harm historically disadvantaged communities.

“A rulemaking that addresses the entire life cycle of data—collection, use, management, retention, and deletion — will provide people with significant protection from discrimination and related data harms . . . We support the FTC’s call for increased funding to ensure that the Commission has the expertise and infrastructure necessary to respond to and prevent data harms . . . . 

“ . . . In addition to identifying and defining unfair and deceptive data practices, the Commission can also use a rulemaking to establish comprehensive “requirements prescribed for the purpose of preventing such acts or practices.” These could include requirements that follow specific restrictions based on the types of personal data involved, the particular uses of the data, and the entities utilizing and sharing the data.”


Privacy Beat is a weekly email update from the Information Trust Exchange Governing Association in service to its mission. Links and brief reports are compiled, summarized or analyzed by Bill Densmore and Eva Tucker.  Submit links and ideas for coverage to

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