- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2019

Privacy advocates said Monday that Facebook and other social media giants have been too slow to clean up their policies after a series of scandals about data misuse, and they said it’s time for a new federal agency to police the companies.

Members of the Privacy and Digital Rights for All coalition said the Federal Trade Commission has proved it’s not up to the task, letting companies slide on any number of previous problems.

The biggest recent example was Cambridge Analytica, which exposed how data from Facebook users was being collected and misused by the firm.

“Cambridge Analytica was not unique. Cambridge Analytica was emblematic of how the industry operates,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Advocates said the FTC has let slide social media companies’ gleaning of information from children and minority users, putting them in the crosshairs of predatory marketing ploys.

The privacy advocates said when companies are able to pick up enough information to determine someone’s race, it can then be used to shape the information and offers they get — such as preventing them from seeing some opportunities for housing.

They urged Congress to consider tighter limits on what kind of data companies can collect and what they can do with it.

“The business model of these companies are based on exploitation,” said Burcu Kilic, research director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “So we need to change the companies’ business models.”

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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