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Consumer Reports: FTC, Congress must take action in wake of latest Facebook privacy revelations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Facebook contends with the latest in a series of privacy scandals, Consumer Reports is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Congress to take strong action in response to repeated abuses by Facebook and other giant tech companies.

Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports, and former policy director of the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation, said, “It is quite clear that companies like Facebook are never going to meaningfully police themselves. As these stories stack up, it appears Facebook is in violation of its 2011 FTC consent decree. The latest news adds fuel to the fire, and could increase the penalties for Facebook by tens of millions of dollars, as well as put more pressure on states to take action.

“Sharing sensitive personal data in violation of user controls would be a violation of the order’s terms. While each day seemingly brings new bad practices to light, the FTC must act quickly to show that it’s willing to hold big tech companies accountable.

“Looking ahead, Congress needs to pass new privacy legislation to prevent all companies from engaging in this type of secret data sharing. The law should not allow consumers’ data to be collected for one narrow purpose and then sold or shared with dozens of other companies without consumers’ consent. A new law would build on the protections recently enacted in California and ensure that corporate data practices live up to people’s common-sense expectations for how their information is treated.”

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.