VIDEO: McSweeny: FTC is Key Enforcer in U.S. Businesses' 'Data-Rich Environment'


The Federal Trade Commission is still learning about data-hungry companies’ impact on consumers and market competition, an FTC Democrat said in a recent interview.

"We're only beginning to understand the impact on consumers of increasingly bigger, more data-rich information being gathered about them," FTC commissioner Terrell McSweeny told Bloomberg Law.

Companies with stockpiles of valuable data also can shut other companies out of certain markets, she said. "The FTC is sort of the country's chief data protection agency in addition to being a competition enforcer," she said. "In certain situations, very large amounts of data, particularly if it's proprietary, has been found to be a barrier to entry."

The agency's role in policing businesses' large-scale use of data has come under spotlight amid a heated public debate over consumers’ use of social media and online privacy.

The FTC is investigating whether Facebook Inc. breached a 2011 consent agreement to safeguard users' personal information. (McSweeny spoke with Bloomberg Law before news broke that Facebook may have exposed the data of millions of users to research firm Cambridge Analytica.)

Multinational tech companies are preparing for the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, a sweeping overhaul that will change how companies can use, store, and delete data.