Will the FTC Do Anything About Corporate Surveillance?

Americans have grown accustomed to hearing about how great America is. American exceptionalismis a phrase that Joseph Stalin coined. It is an idea that, in general, is still ingrained in the nation's collective identity. Even though Americans' optimism during the post-war boom, and the years following the Great Inflation was a fitting description of a nation that is rich and privileged, the idea that America is extraordinary today can be interpreted as a Pollyanna mentality rather than a reflection of Americas current status on the international stage. America is the most developed country among the many. It leads in metrics like gun-related homicides and CEO compensation. Healthcare spending, obesity rates, child poverty, and per capita incarceration rates.AdvertisementLobbying rules, which can be described as legalized corruption, and the tendency to pick empty-shirted loaves-abouts to fill Congress seats, are two of the reasons America has excelled in recent years. The almost constant surveillance of its citizens by any cash-drawing person who wants it. A number of countries with high-to-upper incomes, such as Brazil, Canada, Australia and Canada, have passed laws to protect their citizens from the same kind of data abuse that underpins an insignificant portion of America's economy. Some countries that have residents enjoy the GDPR protections in Europe even have their own privacy laws. They also have the power to unilaterally take action against corporate malfactors. This strange coincidence is certain.However, the U.S. agency that is supposed to protect Americans privacy, The Federal Trade Commission, has been referred to as the toothless one. It has a privacy enforcement staff smaller than a MLB baseball team and a budget comparable to a Midwestern state capital. Furthermore, it can financially punish multibillion-dollar corporations (to be hyperbolic), for deceitful acts. The only thing that can prove its weaknesses is a basic understanding of the status quo. Companies who openly admit to collecting personal data on people because it's the best way for them to get the attention of other companies, government agencies and private individuals interested in purchasing it, are rampant and nonconsensual.There have been many calls in the past to create a new bureaucracy protecting consumers. However, some prominent legal experts argue that the FTC is well-equipped to stop privacy violators, at least on paper. Three professors from universities in information privacy law stated in print two year ago that: The FTC has the legal authority to regulate privacy violations, at least on paper. It took action against a San Francisco-based photo storage firm that used its users' photos as fuel for a facial recognition program. The company was ordered to delete all its data and the algorithm that was built on it.These esteemed experts may not agree with everyone. The New York Times published the following statement by the former director, FTCs consumer protection agency: "In fact, the F.T.C. The FTCs consumer protection bureau's former director wrote for the New York Times a week later: "In fact, the F.T.C.A coalition of over 50 civil and pro privacy organizations published an open letter on Thursday asking the FTC for action against industry-wide data abuse. They cited Amazon as their main example, which is a private surveillance company selling books and other goods online. They wrote that it is impossible for Amazon, the largest online retailer on the planet, to obtain consent from those whose data it collects. This is because people are unable to know the potential harms this collection will have in the future. Amazon's power also forces users without bargaining power to agree to unreasonable and objectionable terms of usage, such as the permission to Amazon to use their personal data for biometric data or AI training.The groups demanded that the FTC ban facial recognition technology, such as the one sold by Clearview AI. This little-known company boasted of stealing billions of photos from social media without people's consent. It also gave low-level street police the ability to search its database using their personal mobile devices, without notifying their superiors. Clearview didn't violate the privacy of the Clearview customers. It seems unlikely that the FTC has the authority or the ability to take action against this flagrant act.AdvertisementRohit Chopra, FTC Commissioner, opened a speech in December before a virtual crowd at a privacy forum hosted online by covid-19. He stated that he believed the current state for facial recognition was flawed and dangerous. Chopra then asked: Are we going allow powerful technology companies to experiment on us, without regard to privacy invasion and harmful discrimination?The definitive answer is yes.Gizmodo reached out to the FTC on Thursday. They declined to comment on whether they support a ban on facial recognition, or if they would consider one. Gizmodo asked the FTC whether it believes it has the authority to ban facial recognition. A spokesperson said that they didn't have any comment. Americans will now be left wondering if their exceptionality will again be burdened by a corrupt and lame government.