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29 attorneys general file comments with FTC on role of states in consumer protection

JusticeTwenty-nine  attorneys general filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission on the significant role state attorneys general play in consumer protection, and asked the FTC to include states in the discussion as the agency holds public hearings on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.”

In June, the FTC announced it would offer public hearings “on whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection enforcement law, enforcement priorities, and policy.” The FTC asked for comments by August 20.

“State Attorneys General are a critical line of defense, protecting consumers against the kinds of unfair and deceptive practices that are far too prevalent,” said  New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood. “At a time when consumers’ privacy, data, and security are often treated as commodities rather than sensitive information, this role is more vital than ever.”

In the comments, the attorneys general highlight the work states do to protect Americans from unfair and deceptive practices and the key role attorneys general have in identifying emerging marketplace trends:

The State Attorneys General play a distinct and important role in consumer protection, given our broad authority to act in the public interest combined with our responsibility to enforce state laws. We have a long history of protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices. The State Attorneys General frequently use our consumer protection authority—derived from states’ traditional police powers—to investigate violations of law, enjoin harmful conduct, redress consumer harm through injunctive relief and restitution, and deter further violations through civil penalties.

The attorney's general also said consumer privacy and data security is an afterthought in product and service development. Industry often doesn’t adequately invest in privacy and security and doesn’t adequately protect sensitive data.

Consumers have told the attorneys general they’re concerned about what the personal information the industry collects, how it informs consumers about data collection, and how it uses and shares consumers’ data, they said.

“Industry must place privacy and security front and center in its research and development of products and services,” the attorney's general said in their comments.

The comments were filed by the following states’ attorneys general: Oregon, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

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