FTC gives big tech firms deadline to disclose data usage within 45 days

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This year the United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has intensified the manner in which it looks at how big tech firms handle user data.

The latest news out of the FTC sees the organisation target a number of companies, with a new 45-day deadline now being set for an explanation into how they gather data, and how it is used.

“The Federal Trade Commission is issuing orders to nine social media and video streaming companies, requiring them to provide data on how they collect, use, and present personal information, their advertising and user engagement practices, and how their practices affect children and teens,” explains an announcement from the Commission.

“The FTC is issuing the orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the Commission to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose,” it adds.

The nine firms in question are Amazon, ByteDance, Facebook, WhatsApp, Discord, Reddit, Snap, Twitter and YouTube.

Drilling a little deeper into what the FTC will be wanting more information on, the US agency has outlined the following:

  • “how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information;
  • how they determine which ads and other content are shown to consumers;
  • whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal information;
  • how they measure, promote, and research user engagement; and
  • how their practices affect children and teens.”

As for what will happen after the 45-day deadline or whether the FTC uncovers any concerning data harvesting/handling practices, remains to be seen.

As TechCrunch explains, the Section 6(b) under which these orders have been issued, do not have any legal ramifications tied to it. That said, it does provide for further action to be taken should any findings be made.

Either way, the FTC is not faltering in keeping big tech firms in its crosshairs.

[Image – Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.