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The Privacy Advisor: Who Should Enforce a US Federal Privacy Law?

February 26, 2019

Privacy advocates and technology companies are pushing for a federal privacy law, and lawmakers have been considering it.

“There has been a considerable push by industry groups for a federal privacy law that would create a nationwide standard, including recent comments submitted by the Association of National Advertisers with the Federal Trade Commission advocating for the FTC’s support of a federal law,” said Scott Pink, special counsel in O'Melveny's Silicon Valley office.

However, it is unclear who would enforce a federal privacy law. Some possible options include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general, or perhaps a new federal data protection agency.

Pink said that primary enforcement should be at the federal level by the FTC, due to its “long history of guidance and enforcement in the area of privacy,” which will allow for greater consistency. However, “I could also see a role for enforcement by state attorneys general, similar to how the CAN-SPAM Act is currently enforced,” he added.

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