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FTC investigating privacy and data collection at top tech giants

2020-12-15 15:26 by
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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Monday it was ordering nine social-media and video-streaming companies to hand over information on how they use and collect data from the millions of people that use their apps and sites. The companies are Amazon, TikTok's parent company ByteDance, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube.

Specifically, the FTC wants to know how these companies choose which ads to serve their users, whether they use algorithms or data analytics with personal information, and how they measure and research user engagement.

The move intensifies the U.S. government's scrutiny of the tech industry's business practices. The FTC last week sued Facebook for alleged violations of antitrust laws, a case that came on the heels of a Justice Department complaint against Google. The FTC is also reviewing past acquisitions of startups by tech giants.

The FTC is using its authority under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which allows it to pursue broad studies separate from law enforcement. The agency launched a separate 6(b) study earlier this year to examine past acquisitions by Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft that would not have been subject to pre-reporting rules for mergers. Chairman Joe Simons said at the time that while a 6(b) study is not connected to an enforcement action, the merger review could "definitely could inform enforcement."

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