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FTC Considering Rules on Collecting, Selling People's Personal Data

Tired of companies gathering and selling your data? The FTC is exploring the possibility of rules around the practice.

Privacy and security on the internet
New rules could help protect people's personal data.
James Martin/CNET

The US Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it's looking into creating rules concerning companies that profit off of collecting and selling people's personal data. The FTC calls this practice commercial surveillance and defines it as "the business of collecting, analyzing, and profiting from information about people."

"Firms now collect personal data on individuals at a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts," FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a news release. 

The FTC is also looking into making new rules regarding lax data security practices that put people's personal data at risk. Data breaches have increased by 14% in the first quarter this year, and that's after a record number of data breaches in 2021.

The agency said it's seeking the public's input on whether these new rules are warranted. People can share their thoughts on the topic at a virtual, public forum scheduled to be held on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree something must be done to address privacy concerns. In June, the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act, or ADPPA, was introduced in the House, but negotiations on the bill have since stalled. 

Some Democrats see FTC action as a stop-gap solution to ensure some protections are in place, while Republicans think Congress should address privacy concerns through legislation like the ADPPA.

Read more: Congress' Bid to Rein In Big Tech Needs a Push Over the Finish Line

In April, Khan pushed for new privacy rules and limits on what data companies can collect. She questioned whether companies should be allowed to collect consumer data indiscriminately while keeping most consumers in the dark about how their data is being used.

"I believe we should approach data privacy and security protections by considering substantive limits rather than just procedural protections, which tend to create process requirements while sidestepping more fundamental questions about whether certain types of data collection and processing should be permitted in the first place," she said at the time.

For more on privacy and security, check out how much internet crime cost people in 2021 and how the fight for data privacy is ramping up.

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