New York Attorney General Provides Comments to FTC on Role of States in Consumer Protection

The New York Attorney General – as part of a bipartisan coalition of 29 Attorneys General – recently filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission highlighting role state Attorneys General play in consumer protection. In doing so, the NY OAG asked the FTC to include states in forthcoming policy discussions.

In June, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it would be holding a series of public hearings, “on whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection enforcement law, enforcement priorities, and policy.”

“State Attorneys General are a critical line of defense, protecting consumers against the kinds of unfair and deceptive practices that are far too prevalent,” said the New York Attorney General. “At a time when consumers’ privacy, data, and security are often treated as commodities rather than sensitive information, this role is more vital than ever. My office will continue to do what it takes to protect New York consumers.”

According to attorney general defense lawyer Richard B. Newman, the filed comments highlighted the work states do to protect Americans from unfair and deceptive practices, and the key role AGs have in identifying emerging marketplace trends.

“The State Attorneys General play a distinct and important role in consumer protection, given our broad authority to act in the public interest combined with our responsibility to enforce state laws. We have a long history of protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices. The State Attorneys General frequently use our consumer protection authority—derived from states’ traditional police powers—to investigate violations of law, enjoin harmful conduct, redress consumer harm through injunctive relief and restitution, and deter further violations through civil penalties,” the Attorneys General wrote.

The Attorneys General also stated that, “In our experiences, consumer privacy and data security is an afterthought in product and service development. Industry often does not adequately invest in privacy and security. Consumer data has inherent value and the free market alone does not adequately protect sensitive data. Consumers have voiced concerns to us about what personal information industry collects, how industry informs consumers about data collection, and how industry uses and shares consumers’ data. Industry must place privacy and security front and center in its research and development of products and services.”

The comments were led by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and filed by the Attorneys General of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

Richard B. Newman is a digital media and data privacy compliance lawyer at Hinch Newman LLP. He is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

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