EPIC Urges FTC to Regulate Surveillance Tech Companies Using Police as Promoters

January 10, 2023

On Monday, EPIC filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission supporting the agency’s proposal for a trade regulation rule based on its Endorsement Guides. EPIC urged the agency to incorporate the full scope of the Endorsement Guides into its rule, as the FTC had included in its proposed rule undisclosed incentives (i.e., situations in which the endorser receives a benefit in exchange for their endorsement) but did not explicitly include unsupported claims (i.e., situations in which the endorser says the product is effective but the company fails to show effectiveness). EPIC also urged the Commission to make explicit that companies are liable for violations of the Endorsement Guides made by police promoters.

Using Amazon Ring as just one example, EPIC explained how surveillance technology companies can use law enforcement entities to make crime reduction claims about their products that are unsupported by scientific evidence, and can cultivate relationships that go undisclosed to consumers, such as incentivized discounts or editorial review of public statements. This can result in harm to consumers, who are misled by public sector promoters, and in harm to competition, as the market gets saturated with one company’s product due to police endorsements.

EPIC has published reports and filed amicus briefs regarding technology that has not substantiated its explicit crime reduction claims or implicit accuracy claims, petitioned the FTC for rulemaking regarding the privacy and security of consumer data, and filed comments in support of more robust disclosures by law enforcement organizations regarding their use of surveillance technology.

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