GOP Senator Blasts FTC for Falling Short on Facebook and Google
JC News|March. 11, 2019
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has failed to protect consumers in its policing of companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., Republican Senator Josh Hawley told the agency’s chief.
The FTC, which has a mandate to enforce antitrust and consumer protection statutes, has taken a “toothless” approach to these platforms, Hawley wrote in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons dated Monday.
“These companies have harmed consumers by conditioning participation in the modern public square on giving away enormous -- and growing -- amounts of personal information and by leveraging scale to cripple emerging competitors in their infancy,” Hawley wrote to Simons.
There is “substantial evidence” that Facebook violated a 2011 agreement with the agency, Hawley said. The social networking website is under investigation by the FTC over alleged violations in the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, in which the British political consultancy tied to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign obtained the data of millions of the site’s users without their consent.
The companies, which once enjoyed a cozy relationship with Washington, are facing increasing scrutiny by Congress and agencies amid data lapses, controversial content and accusations that they abuse their dominance and exhibit political bias.
Hawley, who represents Missouri, has emerged as a top GOP critic of the companies. He listed what he called “alarming” behaviors, including the contention that “Google has consistently misinformed users about its use of geolocation data.”
Hawley sits on the Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on Tuesday on privacy laws as Congress considers legislation on the topic. A Google executive will testify in the hearing, the committee announced Monday.
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