Senators Urge FTC to Stop Google’s Monetization of COVID-19 Fears

March 17, 2020

Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote to FTC Chairman Joe Simons about Google's ad targeting practices for products such as face masks and hand sanitizer. The Senators presented evidence that Google continues to run ads that capitalize on COVID-19 fears despite claiming to ban such ads. The Senators said that the ads "create widespread social harms to our nation's response to the crisis." The also said, "consumers should b able to rely on representations regarding a company's business practices…if consumer cannot rely on a company's representations, then the FTC must intervene." EPIC has long advocated privacy protections for medical information. EPIC helped establish the FTC's authority to oversee Google, but EPIC has since criticized the agency's effectiveness and called for the establishment of a U.S. Data Protection Agency.

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