Former FCC Counselor Advocates for Federal Consumer Privacy Law

Gigi Sohn, a former counselor to the Federal Communications Commission during the administration of President Barack Obama, has urged the federal government to pass a law to protect the privacy of consumers. Sohn argued that consumers may suffer more than just financial losses due to violations of their privacy. She noted that a violation of a consumer’s privacy can cause physical injuries and damage to their reputation.

While the federal government has not yet acted in this area, many privacy laws exist at the state level. California passed a Consumer Privacy Act in 2018, which was the first major example of these laws. The law has been amended several times since it was initially passed. It prohibits companies from selling consumer data and requires a higher degree of transparency in their data collection. Consumers also have a right to see the information that companies collect about them, and they have a right to prompt responses from companies when they request information. The final version of the law likely will receive the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom next week.

While they are enthusiastic about the California law, Sohn and other consumer advocates believe that it still does not go far enough. She noted that the Consumer Privacy Act does not allow consumers to prevent the collection of their data. It covers only the sale of consumer data to third parties. According to Sohn, an ideal consumer privacy law would require companies to refrain from collecting data unless consumers specifically opt into data collection.

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