PIRG’s comments to the FTC on its big data rulemaking

The FTC should write rules reining in how companies collect, sell and use our data.

An illustration of a laptop screen with a warning alert
Darwin Laganzon | Pixabay.com
Protecting your information online has never been more important.

Whenever we go online, we generate a lot of data – what sites we look at, what purchases we make, what searches we conduct, what apps we use. Companies collect, sell and use this data. They know more about us than at any other point in history.

That includes our internal lives. Advertisers know more about our weaknesses, insecurities, and emotional and behavioral patterns than ever before – and they use it to target us with ads online. Those targeted ads serve a range of purposes – from scamming or manipulating consumers, to just further increasing over-consumption and its environmental costs – none of which are in the public interest.

The FTC is considering writing rules to rein in “commercial surveillance”. PIRG supports writing new rules to protect people’s data, and to make sure companies are only collecting about us what they need to deliver the service we’re expecting – and using it only for that purpose.

You can download PIRG’s comments to the FTC above.


R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, PIRG

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, consumer debt and predatory auto lending, and has testified before Congress. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder. Though she lives in Boston, she will always consider herself a Kansan at heart.

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