At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Klobuchar addressed the need for increased competition and urged her colleagues to take action on legislation to protect consumers’ private information, including her Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act
WASHINGTON – Today at the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, highlighted the need to address the impacts of digital advertising, consolidation, and data privacy for consumers. Klobuchar urged her colleagues to take action on legislation to protect consumers’ private information, including the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act which she introduced with Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). Recently, Klobuchar sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with Senator Blackburn, calling on the agency to take action in response to public concerns regarding potential privacy, data security, and antitrust violations involving online platforms.
“I think we all know the world has changed around us and I think our laws have to be as sophisticated as the mergers coming before us and the consolidation that we are seeing and the types of businesses we’re now seeing,” Klobuchar said in her remarks.
“I have been focused on antitrust law – trying to get more resources to our Department of Justice and FTC – and doing it by simply charging an increased fee on the companies when they engage in these mega mergers. I’m also concerned at some of the consolidation that has already taken place and I think we should be able to look back at our agencies what has happened in light of these new business models.
“Another issue that I’m focused on is digital advertising, and what has been going on particularly with political ads. Senator Warner and I have introduced The Honest Ads Act which basically says that you have to have disclosures and disclaimers for social media political ads just like you have them for TV, radio and newspaper.
“Also, privacy legislation has to be something that we do. I’ve noticed now that a lot of the companies after resisting privacy legislation are realizing that states are taking it on their own and seem a little more interested in it. Senator Kennedy and I have a bill, a bipartisan bill to get at some of these issues that we hope you’ll all take a look at.”
For video of Klobuchar’s remarks at the hearing click here.
In her leadership role on the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries including the agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries. She leads the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act which would update existing law to reflect the current economy and provide agencies with better information post-merger to ensure that merger enforcement is meeting its goals. This bill would modernize antitrust enforcement by improving the agencies’ ability to assess the impact of merger settlements, requiring studies of new issues, adjusting merger filing fees to reflect the 21st century economy, and providing adequate funding for antitrust agencies to meet their obligations to protect American consumers. Klobuchar also introduced the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act to restore the original purpose of the Clayton Antitrust Act to promote competition and protect American consumers. The bill would strengthen the current legal standard to help stop harmful consolidation that may materially lessen competition. It would clarify that a merger could violate the statute if it gives a company “monopsony” power to unfairly lower the prices it pays or wages it offers because of lack of competition among buyers or employers. The bill further strengthens the law to guard against harmful “mega-mergers” and deals that substantially increase market concentration, shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition. She introduced both bills in February.
Earlier this month, Klobuchar reintroduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Graham carries on the bipartisan legacy of the bill from the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. 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.
Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers’ private information. Senator Klobuchar and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act, legislation to protect the privacy of consumers’ online data by improving transparency, strengthening consumers’ recourse options when a breach of data occurs, and ensuring companies are compliant with privacy policies that protect consumers.
More specifically, the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act legislation would:
- Give consumers the right to opt-out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
- Provide users greater access to and control over their data,
- Require terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
- Ensure users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
- Mandate that users be notified of a breach of their information within 72 hours,
- Offer remedies for users when a breach occurs,
- Require that online platforms have a privacy program in place.
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. Senators Klobuchar and Kennedy’s legislation would protect the privacy of consumers’ online data.