New Orleans We’ve got Elizabeth Warren speaking up for consumers and the “little people” in the US Senate. We used to have Sheila Baird pushing back hard on the banks for some accountability. Maybe I’ve been missing this, but it seems like suddenly Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, has decided it’s time for the mouse to roar and is taking on some big targets in tech and medicine, so maybe we’ve got a voice in Washington speaking truth to power for the rest of us for a change. Attention must be paid.
I first noticed something was happening over there in recent weeks when there was a review of an article Ramirez had placed in the New England Journal of Medicine warning doctors, some of the high priests and profiteers of our modern times, that merging some of their medical practices was actually monopolistic and a restraint of trade that could stifle competition. She argued that “extensive evidence” indicates that “consolidation of health care providers leads to higher prices without…improvements in quality.” Well, I said to myself, right on, let’s keep an eye on Ramirez and the FTC and see if there’s any bite, or it’s all bark, because she’s cornered this lion in the tree now, so what comes next?
Chasing another lion it turns out!
In a speech in Vegas to a good sampling of the technology industry, she previewed a coming report on the internet and privacy with some prescriptions that might be just what the doctor ordered. She was observing that the home because of the growth of the “internet of things” with one wireless and so-called “smart” device after another was going to become the next target for hackers. Oh, mercy, get grandma off the internet now!
She stated the obvious that tech companies are collecting our personal data without a clue and, “That data trove will contain a wealth of revealing information that, when patched together, will present a deeply personal and startlingly complete picture of each of us.” She chided the techies about the fact that rather than caring about their customers’ privacy on the front end in the design phase, they were only adding it later after there was a mess. I might add, “If then?” We’ve seen this over and over again with Snapchat, Facebook, and you name it, haven’t we?
Simple solution in the FTC’s view is that the companies should only collect what they need rather than stockpiling our data for some unknown future commercial purpose of their own when they have no clue how to use it or how to protect it. Darned right, Sister Ramirez, let’s put a stop to this right now.
The FTC keeps talking like this and there might still be hope for us to have at least a fig leaf of privacy in the future! Got get ‘em!