U.S. lawmakers seek $1 bln to fund FTC privacy probes

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WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democratic lawmakers on Thursday proposed awarding the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $1 billion to set up a bureau dedicated to improving data security and privacy and fighting identity theft.

The proposal, which Democrats plan to include in a $3.5 trillion spending measure, would fund a new bureau over 10 years to address “unfair or deceptive acts or practices relating to privacy, data security, identity theft, data abuses, and related matters,” according to a summary released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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The committee will meet on Monday to take up the wide-ranging spending proposal that includes $30 billion to remove lead pipes and $13.5 billion for zero emissions vehicle infrastructure buildout.

Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, said in a statement it was “long past time that the FTC have the tools it needs to keep pace with the online marketplace and those who would undermine it.”

“Creating a privacy bureau is an important step in protecting consumers,” she said, adding that a federal privacy and data security law that protects consumers and creates certainty for businesses is still needed.

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, has picked up the job of pushing corporations to better protect consumer data and privacy as it enforces rules against deceptive practices.

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For example, in 2020, it settled with Zoom over allegations that the company misled consumers about the level of security it provided. The company agreed to improve its security as part of a settlement.

The Energy and Commerce bill would also direct $3 billion for the costs of providing direct government loans to produce “zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles, trains or locomotives, maritime vessels, aircraft, or hyperloop technology.”

It would direct $1 billion “for domestic manufacturing conversion grants relating to domestic production of zero-emission vehicles.”

The bill also would spend $10 billion on supply chain resilience projects including “demonstrating technological advances for critical manufacturing supply chains.” (Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Robert Birsel)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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