The FTC is demanding information on “how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information; how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers; whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information; how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and how their practices affect children and teens.”
Commissioners voted 4-1 to issue the orders. Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine S. Wilson wrote in a joint statement that the study will “lift the hood on the social media and video streaming firms to carefully study their engines. As concerns mount regarding the impact of the tech companies on Americans’ privacy and behavior, this study is timely and important.”
Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips, who voted against the measure, argued in a dissenting statement that the orders constitute “an undisciplined foray into a wide variety of topics, some only tangentially related to the stated focus of this investigation. The actions undertaken today trade a real opportunity to use scarce government resources to advance public understanding of consumer data privacy practices — critical to informing ongoing policy discussions in the United States and internationally — for the appearance of action on a litany of gripes with technology companies.”
Regulators have been focusing more intensely on major tech companies in recent times. Just last week, the FTC and 48 attorneys general filed antitrust charges against Facebook.