The 2022 National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Presidential Summit, held last week in Des Moines, Iowa, signaled a clear partnership between state AGs, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to accomplish Iowa AG Tom Miller’s “fight back” presidential initiative: Consumer Protection 2.0: Tech Threats and Tools. Picking up from the 2021 kickoff of Miller’s NAAG initiative this past December, the NAAG Summit featured a variety of speakers from the federal, state, and private sectors, including, most notably, from the FTC and CFPB.
Alvaro Bedoya, in his first speech as a Commissioner of the FTC, emphasized a common theme discussed throughout the Summit, the importance of child protection and privacy with a focus on emerging technologies and its effect on children. Bedoya, the former Director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center, also highlighted the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but noted a lack of focus on protection for non-English speakers as AI is largely trained on English.
Noah Phillips, who recently announced he will be stepping down from his position as FTC Commissioner, acknowledged these important issues and the appeal of a federal privacy law, but reminded the audience that there are already robust tools in place to protect privacy on a national level such as The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act § 5. He also emphasized the importance of evidence in pursuing enforcement actions and implementing policy changes at the FTC and elsewhere.
The concept of a comprehensive federal privacy law has long been a subject of debate amongst privacy and legal circles. This debate has gained renewed momentum and attention as the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) advanced passed the House Committee on Commerce & Energy in June to the House floor. In the absence of a preempting federal privacy law, proponents argue, the confusing “patchwork” of state privacy laws will continue. However, opponents argue that preemption would restrict states’ rights to enact more rigorous and protective state laws. In a recent letter to Congress, ten state AGs, led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, encouraged Congress to adopt legislation that sets a federal floor, not a ceiling, for privacy rights and protections. While the debate continues among legislative bodies, the FTC appears ready to enter the fray, as it issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on commercial surveillance and data security, the day after the NAAG Summit concluded.
The NAAG Summit also featured Rohit Chopra, Director of the CFPB. In his follow up appearance to the NAAG 2021 Capital Forum, Chopra put Big Tech on notice that it will no longer be exempt from enforcement scrutiny by the CFPB, and that the CFPB will hold Big Tech accountable for violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). In the same day, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule expanding on Chopra’s statements.
Further notable issues that were discussed at the Summit include enforcement actions and regulation as it relates to AI and blockchain.
Given the topics of discussion and speakers featured at the Summit, and the subsequent actions taken by the FTC and CFPB, AG Miller’s vision for the Consumer Protection 2.0 initiative is coming to fruition, particularly insofar as it reflects partnerships between AGs, the FTC, and the CFPB, and we expect to see enhanced coordination and enforcement between these regulators.