FCC partners with four states on privacy and data protection enforcement

The Federal Communications Commission’s privacy and data protection task force will begin partnering with four state governments to strengthen enforcement investigations and pool resources, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced Wednesday.

The attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania signed a memorandum of understanding with the FCC to cement the partnership. Federal and state investigators will share records, witness interviews and enforcement work identifying interview targets and reviewing consumer complaints, the FCC said in a press release.

The deal is intended to give the states both expertise and resources to support investigations into robocalling scams, for example.

The commission’s privacy and data protection task force also investigates and takes enforcement actions on matters including SIM swapping scams, port-out fraud and data breaches, the press release said.

With the new partnership, the FCC can introduce state enforcers to other federal agencies working on similar cases and lend expertise on how to use tools such as subpoenas and confidential response letters from targets, the press release said.

Harold Feld, a privacy advocate with the nonprofit public interest group Public Knowledge, closely tracks the FCC’s work and said the partnership will yield results, making both state and federal investigators more effective.

“No one can ever see the full picture when it comes to privacy or cybersecurity,” Feld said. “Nor can any one enforcer hope to handle every threat or address every consumer harm.”

Feld added that he hopes additional states will join the partnership so they can “give the states the benefit of the FCC’s expertise, and give the FCC the benefit of the diverse experience and broad expertise of state enforcers.”

The FCC and state enforcers have already worked together to rein in robocalls, the FCC release said.

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Suzanne Smalley

Suzanne Smalley is a reporter covering privacy, disinformation and cybersecurity policy for The Record. She was previously a cybersecurity reporter at CyberScoop and Reuters. Earlier in her career Suzanne covered the Boston Police Department for the Boston Globe and two presidential campaign cycles for Newsweek. She lives in Washington with her husband and three children.