Senate Urged To Question FTC Nominee About Behavioral Targeting

The Senate should question Federal Trade Commission nominee Alvaro Bedoya on his views about the agency's authority to regulate behavioral advertising before deciding whether to confirm him, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged Wednesday.

“FTC is at an inflection point,” Chamber chief policy officer Neil Bradley said in a letter to Senate leaders. “Mr. Bedoya would be the fifth member of the Commission and his vote would break potential deadlocks over changes in policy or an enforcement matter.”

If the Senate confirms Bedoya, privacy advocate and founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, the FTC will be dominated by Democrats for the first time during the Biden administration.



The Chamber is asking lawmakers to delay a confirmation vote until they probe Bedoya's views on several topics, including the FTC's power to issue rules regarding behavioral targeting.

Bradley's letter notes that the FTC recently sought comments about a petition filed by Accountable Tech, which is seeking a ban on “surveillance advertising” -- typically defined as tracking people's website and app use in order to personalize ads.

Accountable Tech argues this technique is unfair to consumers, and harms competition by benefitting companies that hold data about consumers.

The Chamber wants the Senate to ask Bedoya whether the FTC is empowered to issue rules against “unfair methods of competition,” as Accountable Tech urged.

The Chamber also indicated it's concerned that Bedoya's tie-breaking vote could allow the FTC to move forward with proposals that the organization believes would hinder businesses.

“The FTC is currently considering several initiatives that would impose burdens on business, including bans on exclusive contracts, non-compete clauses, and personalized online advertising,” the letter states. “In a recent speech, Chair Khan expressed an interest in substantively limiting the use of online data, irrespective of consumer notice and choice.”

Last week, Khan publicly suggested in a speech delivered at the International Association of Privacy Professionals that officials should consider prohibiting certain forms of data collection.

The Senate recently voted 51-50 to advance Bedoya's nomination, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

That vote paved the way for the Senate to confirm Bedoya, but lawmakers haven't yet set a date for the vote.

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