FCC Privacy + Data Protection Task Force Announces Enforcement Partnership with State Attorneys General

On December 6, 2023, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a new initiative to strengthen and formalize the cooperation between the FCC and its state partners on privacy, data protection and cybersecurity enforcement matters.

As part of the work of the FCC’s Privacy and Data Protection Task Force, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Attorneys General of Connecticut, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania to share expertise, resources and coordinated efforts in conducting privacy, data protection and cybersecurity-related investigations to protect consumers.

The Memoranda of Understanding

           The new MOU affirm that the FCC and State Attorneys General “share close and common legal interests in working cooperatively to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute or otherwise take enforcement action in relation to privacy, data protection or cybersecurity issues” under sections 201 and 222 of the Communications Act.

Coordinated action and information sharing will take place under all applicable federal and state laws, and privacy protections.

Federal and State Comments

           FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said, in pertinent part, that  “[d]efending consumer privacy is an all-of-government responsibility and a shared challenge.  Today we take on evolving consumer threats with new formal partnerships with state law enforcement leaders, which  have already been successful in obtaining record-breaking results in combatting illegal robocalls.”

FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyann A. Egal said, in pertinent part, that “[u]se of information and communications technology and services have significantly enhanced our lives while at the same time increasing vulnerabilities to our privacy and sensitive data.  These strategic partnerships … will allow us to maximize our efforts to address risks arising from the misuse or mishandling of sensitive data …”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Co-Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Internet Safety/Cyber Privacy and Security Committee said, in pertinent part, that “[c]onsumers have a right to know and control how their personal information is used, stored and protected, and companies who violate that trust must be held accountable.”

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul noted that “[s]imilar state and federal partnerships have allowed us to successfully target perpetrators of illegal robocalls.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James stated, in pertinent part, that “[t]his partnership … will help strengthen our ability to protect consumers privacy and hold companies that violate the law accountable.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle A. Henry noted that “[e]very day millions of people have their personal information and data stolen or misused, or their data is not sufficiently protected.  My Office’s partnership with the FCC will allow us to offer better online data protection for all Americans …”

Regulatory Investigation and Enforcement

During investigations, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and state investigators many both seek records, inquire of witnesses, interview targets, examine consumer complaints and take other measures designed to construct a record against potential bad actors.  The new partnerships can provide valuable resources for building cases.

Importantly, the FCC offers partner states with the experience of its enforcement staff, as well resources and remedies to support state investigations.

For example, the MOUs may facilitate relationships with other authorities, including other federal agencies, and support for and expertise with critical investigative tools, including subpoenas and confidential information procured from suspected targets.

Of interest to digital marketers, the FCC has worked closely with state partners to obtain results in the robocalling space.

FCC Privacy and Data Protection Task Force

           FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel has created the Privacy and Data Protection Task Force, with a particular focus on privacy and data protection issues subject to the FCC’s authority under the Communications Act.

The Task Force coordinates, without limitation, enforcement and rulemaking regarding privacy and data protection.

Takeaway:    Connecticut, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania have been amongst the most aggressive as it relates to privacy and data security investigation and enforcement.  The FCC has made clear its intent to increase federal investigation and enforcement activity against, without limitation, VoIP providers and carriers concerning privacy, data protection and cybersecurity.

Richard B. Newman is an FTC attorney at Hinch Newman LLP.  Follow FTC defense lawyer on X.

Informational purposes only. Not legal advice. May be considered attorney advertising.

Richard Newman

Richard B. Newman is a nationally recognized FTC advertising compliance, CID investigation and regulatory enforcemetn attorney. He regularly provides advertising counsel and represents clients in high-profile investigations and enforcement proceedings initiated by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, departments of consumer affairs, and other federal and state agencies with jurisdiction over advertising and marketing practices. Richard is also an ecommerce lawyer and spam defense attorney. His practice additionally focuses upon false advertising defense, data privacy, cybersquatting, intellectual property law and transactional matters relating to the dissemination of national advertising campaigns, including the gamut of affiliate marketing, telemarketing, lead generation, list management and licensing agreements. Richard advises clients on how to minimize the legal risks associated with digital marketing, email marketing, telemarketing, social media influencer campaigns, endorsements and testimonials, negative option marketing models, native advertising, online promotions and comparative advertising,





About This Blog and Hinch Newman’s Advertising + Marketing Practice

Hinch Newman LLP’s advertising and marketing practice includes successfully resolving some of the highest-profile Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general digital advertising and telemarketing investigations and enforcement actions. The firm possesses superior knowledge and deep legal experience in the areas of advertising, marketing, lead generation, promotions, e-commerce, privacy and intellectual property law. Through these advertising and marketing law updates, Hinch Newman provides commentary, news and analysis on issues and trends concerning developments of interest to digital marketers, including FTC and state attorneys general advertising compliance, civil investigative demands (CIDs), and administrative/judicial process. This blog is sponsored by Hinch Newman LLP.

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