January 19, 2022

Volume XII, Number 19

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January 19, 2022

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January 18, 2022

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Accountable Tech Files Petition for FTC Rulemaking to Ban Surveillance Advertising

Accountable Tech has recently filed a petition for an FTC rulemaking that would ban “surveillance advertising” as an “unfair method of competition.”  The group cites the ad practices of surveillance ad giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon.

The petition notes that President Biden’s Executive Order encourages the FTC to use its rulemaking authority to address “unfair data collection and surveillance practices” that harm competition, consumers and society.  The FTC voted in September to allow members of the public to petition the agency to issue rules.

Accountable Tech asserts that surveillance-based advertising is an inherently unfair method of competition which both relies upon, and cyclically reinforces, monopoly power. “Because many digital markets are prone to “tipping”—whereby early competition is for the entirety of the market—dominant firms have gained access to massive user bases and self-perpetuating data advantages that provide high barriers to entry and easy leverage into adjacent markets.”

“On this foundation, surveillance advertising fuels a toxic feedback loop: dominant firms are uniquely situated and incentivized to (1) unfairly extract and monetize more user data; (2) unfairly integrate that data across business lines; and (3) actively suppress competition. As this flywheel accelerates, so too does the race to the bottom amongst rivals seeking to close ever-widening data gaps.”

Accountable Tech further asserts that “consumers also suffer directly from surveillance advertising.  For users of nominally “free” products, paid for in the form of personal data and attention, each new invasion of privacy and degradation of services is an effective price hike.”  It further asserts that there exists a legal basis for rulemaking under “unfair methods of competition,”

You can read the petition, here.

© 2022 Hinch Newman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 362
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About this Author

Richard Newman, FTC Defense Lawyer, Internet Marketing, Hinch Newman Law Firm

Richard B. Newman is a nationally recognized FTC defense lawyer and advertising compliance attorney.  He regularly provides advertising counsel and represents clients in high-profile investigations (CIDs) and enforcement proceedings initiated by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, departments of consumer affairs, and other federal and state agencies with jurisdiction over advertising and marketing practices.  Richard’s practice also concentrates upon transactional matters relating to the dissemination of national advertising campaigns, including the...

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