In a follow up to our previous post “Privacy Continues to be Top of Mind Issue With President Biden’s State of the Union Address and Movement on FTC Nominee Today,” the Senate confirmed Alvaro Bedoya as a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission which provides Democrats 3-2 control over the agency’s enforcement activities and objectives. The Senate vote was a 50 Yeas/50 Nays split along party lines with Vice President Harris’ vote as the tiebreak.

President Biden had previously nominated Bedoya, a privacy scholar with interests in surveillance and data security, to fill Commissioner Chopra’s seat. As Commissioner, likely priorities for Bedoya include the FTC’s enforcement of various privacy laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which could further impact litigations brought under those statutes.

With a majority in hand and all commissioner seats filled, this may indicate a favorable time for Democrats to move forward with rulemaking, including in the realm of data privacy and cybersecurity. As a reminder, earlier in the year Commissioner Wilson had indicated opposition to FTC action on data privacy, facial recognition and AI. This was following the FTC’s December 2021 notice that it was “considering initiating a rulemaking under Section 18 of the FTC Act to curb lax security practices, limit privacy abuses, and ensure that algorithmic decision-making does not result in unlawful discrimination.”

For more on this, stay tuned. The CPW team will continue to monitor FTC activities and provide you with relevant updates.

Data privacy is going to continue to be a top of mind issue going into Q2 2022, as seen by developments this week. Specifically, President Biden’s State of the Union address explicitly referenced concerns related to children’s privacy. Additionally today the Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-14, along party lines, to advance Federal Trade Commission nominee Alvaro Bedoya.

According to the White House press release ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address, President Biden’s administrative agenda for the year will focus on mental health, particularly of children and disadvantaged populations. The press release explained that President Biden intended to call for the banning of excessive data collection of children and a prohibition on discriminatory algorithmic decision-making that “limits opportunities for young Americans.” Consistent with these broader themes, President Biden’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday explicitly referenced children’s privacy. President Biden commented that “[i]t’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, [and] demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.” He additionally stated that social media platforms needed to be held accountable for “the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”

President Biden had previously nominated Alvaro Bedoya, a privacy scholar with interests in surveillance and data security, to fill Commissioner Chopra’s seat. As Commissioner, likely priorities for Bedoya include the FTC’s enforcement of various privacy laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which could further impact litigations brought under those statutes. The 14-14 tie vote on Bedoya sets up a complicated path for confirmation on the Senate floor, which will play out in the coming weeks.