Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons said at the Consumer Electronics Association’s CES event on Jan. 7 that creating a new Federal privacy regulator would be a “huge mistake.”

During an interview at the CES event, Simons was asked about the idea of a new Federal regulator for privacy, along the lines of legislation introduced in the House in November 2019 that would create a new consumer data privacy legal framework in the U.S.

“That would be a huge mistake,” Simons responded, while arguing that the FTC already does a good job at regulating privacy issues despite having to do so with a statute that is more than 100 years old.

“Of course, I’m the FTC Chairman, and I would say that, but I really mean it,” Simons said.  He said his agency has been enforcing Federal privacy statutes “pretty aggressively…We have been very creative.” He added that current FTC staff has a lot of experience in privacy enforcement, and is “very high functioning” with “high morale.”

Despite his objection to a new regulator being created, Simons reiterated it was “time for Congress to think about” new Federal data privacy laws.  “We should see if it makes sense” to create a new Federal statute rather than relying on state law, he said.

“As we get further into the digital age, privacy concerns are getting more important by the minute,” Simons said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.