The Trump administration’s privacy, competition and consumer protection cops plan to embark on a cross-country listening tour to gauge how academics and average Web users believe the U.S. government should address digital-age challenges that include the rise of artificial intelligence and the data-collection mishaps that have plagued companies such as Facebook.
The effort announced Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission and its new chairman, Joe Simons, includes 15 or more public sessions in a series of cities that have yet to be announced. The hearings are expected to touch on topics like the agency’s “remedial authority” to address privacy and security abuses, the potential risks posed by big data, and the commission’s tools to enforce antitrust laws as media, tech and telecom companies gobble each other up or seek to enter new lines of business.
“Their budget is sort of insanely low,” said Michelle De Mooy, the director of the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a D.C.-based think tank. She noted the agency is limited in the rules it can write on its own and the staff it can hire.
“Making sure they are able to be effective, now that they are faced with so many emerging technologies, is absolutely crucial for effective consumer protection,” she said.