Having one agency in charge of all privacy issues ‘doesn’t make sense,’ FTC’s McSweeny says

30 March 2017. By Can Celik.

The idea of having one agency be in charge of all privacy issues "doesn't make sense," the US Federal Trade Commission's Democratic member said, adding that agencies should partner to address privacy and data security issues in emerging technologies such as connected cars and medical devices.

"You need to make sure agencies that are the expert regulators of their analog worlds can apply the expertise they have in their industries to the technology," FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny said Thursday at a conference* in Washington, DC.

"It would not make sense to have the FTC suddenly take over safety of connected vehicles" just because there is a privacy or security element of it, said McSweeny, who noted she was speaking in a personal capacity.

"Similarly it doesn't make sense for the FTC to take over regulating medical devices just because they're connected," she added.

"I think the right solution is partnership," she said, noting that, for example, the agency made efforts to confirm that its approach on connected cars is the same as that of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

She also cited the need for the US Federal Communications Commission's "expertise in networks to help make decisions about what is the best framework to protect consumer privacy and security when we're talking about our choices" in the networking area.

"I would love it if we had comprehensive data security legislation, comprehensive privacy legislation, but I'm not holding my breath," she said.

*American Bar Association Antitrust Law 2017 Spring Meeting. Washington, DC. March 29-31, 2017.

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