FTC Delay Another Sign Agency Is off the Rails With “Commercial Surveillance” Rulemaking Spree

Washington, D.C. – Internet for Growth (I4G), a coalition of small businesses and creators across the U.S. who rely on digital advertising and e-commerce tools is criticizing the FTC for exceeding its mandate and attacking the ad-supported internet. Executive Director Brendan Thomas pointed to a recent delay in the public comment period for the agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Commercial Surveillance and Data Security:

“Small businesses and their customers are facing one blow after another, from supply chain issues and labor shortages to inflation and the prospect of recession. Meanwhile, the FTC is on an ideological crusade to remake the U.S. economy — taking its marching orders from activist groups targeting ‘Big Tech.’ But what makes for a good slogan doesn’t make for good policy. The FTC’s plans would make Big Tech bigger, hurting entrepreneurs and mom and pops. Without the same resources, small businesses would see higher advertising prices in a more concentrated market. Redefining ordinary online commerce as ‘commercial surveillance,’ the FTC is implying everyone who uses digital advertising or data to do business is guilty. This latest delay in its rule-making process shows how little the agency has considered the ramifications of its power-grab. We support clearer rules for data protection, but that doesn’t mean the FTC should take the place of Congress. This has been a severely flawed and unserious process from the start. The last small thing Americans need in this weakening economy is more uncertainty from Washington.”

According to research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), digital advertising plays a crucial role in today’s online economy. In 2020, the ad-supported internet accounted for 12% of the U.S. GDP, supporting more than 17 million jobs. Members of Internet for Growth have been highlighting the positive impact of digital advertising and the potential consequences of punitive legislation and regulation.