WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the following statement on the New York Times report that personal user data was shared by Facebook possibly in violation of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decree. In 2011, a consent decree was negotiated to settle FTC complaints that Facebook was deceiving consumers by sharing or publicizing private user information after assuring users that the information would be kept private. In March, following reports that the FTC opened an investigation, Klobuchar and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) wrote to encourage the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation and asking the FTC to examine who else had obtained Americans’ personal data.

“I’m extremely concerned that we are just now learning that even more personal user data was provided without consent. That’s why my focus is on protecting consumers’ privacy online and promoting transparency in how their data is handled—which is why we need to pass my bipartisan bill with Senator Kennedy.”

In April, Klobuchar and U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced privacy legislation that will protect consumers’ online data. Social media and other online platforms routinely capture users’ behavior and personal information, which is then used to help advertisers or other third parties target those users. The bipartisan legislation would require companies to make privacy disclosures clearer and more transparent, give consumers the right to control their own data by allowing people to opt-out of having their data collected, and require companies to notify consumers of a privacy violation within 72 hours.   

In October, Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.