Browse all articles

Three Ways Congress Is Trying to Weaken Consumer Protections for You and Your Kids

Congress is trying to lessen the power the Federal Trade Commission, which will hurt consumers like you and your kids.

Most of us have never heard of or had anything to do with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a small agency in Washington, D.C. But it plays a big role protecting consumers across the country, like you, or your parents. The FTC alerts us to phone scams bilking seniors out of their Social Security checks, calls out companies for false or misleading advertising, and helps victims of identity theft. They also work to protect our kids in today's 24/7 digital world.

One of the most important things the FTC does to protect consumers and kids is to carry out enforcement actions -- basically, stopping companies from breaking consumer-protection rules. The FTC investigates companies for violating laws and hurting consumers. Numerous companies, including many in the tech world, have been the subject of FTC enforcement. This includes developers of software and apps that have broken their own rules about protecting children's privacy, companies that violate limits on robo-calls, and fraudulent student loan purveyors.

Now, a bill is advancing in Congress that would weaken the FTC. That's bad for kids and bad for you. Here are three ways the so-called FTC Process and Transparency Reform Act of 2016 would limit the FTC's enforcement abilities. It would: 

·      make it easier for companies to skirt the law and evade responsibility;

·      arbitrarily cap the time limits of FTC investigations;

·      and make it more difficult for the agency to pursue repeat offenders.

Such efforts to weaken the FTC are bad for kids and families. That's why Kids Action has joined other advocates in asking Congress to stop this legislation.

Read our letter and learn more about consumer-protection efforts by the FTC.

Join our efforts -- become a Kids Action Advocate today!

Ariel Fox Johnson
Ariel Fox Johnson is Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, where she advocates for smart practices, policies, and rules to help all kids thrive in today’s wired world. Her work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world. She frequently advises policymakers, industry, and tech experts, and has helped develop laws on student privacy, consumer privacy, and the Internet of Things. Ariel is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School. Prior to joining Common Sense, Ariel worked on privacy, media, intellectual property, and technology matters at corporate law firms, and provided pro bono assistance to nonprofits and asylum seekers.