The Federal Trade Commission requires internet platforms to share details about how they harness user data and what they do with the information.
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Sent the Federal Trade Commission Requests To online platforms to provide them with details about data collection and advertising practices, and the platforms have 45 days to respond to the request.
The agency said in a statement: The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to find out how the platforms collect data about users, how they decide which ads to display, and how to use algorithms, among other information.
The agency also seeks information on how corporate practices affect children and adolescents.
Two Democratic members of the committee wrote in a joint statement: There was no previous industry capable of monitoring and monetizing much of our personal lives, while the platforms now follow users everywhere through apps within the always-on mobile devices.
They added: This constant access to these platforms allows them to monitor where users go, who they interact with and what they do, and much about the industry remains seriously ambiguous.
The commission’s request is the latest step for federal regulators against big tech companies and trying to monitor their activities.
The increased scrutiny this year prompted the platforms to answer questions about incorrect uses of consumer data and violations of federal antitrust law.
The order comes just one week after the Federal Trade Commission and 48 prosecutors across the country filed lawsuits against Facebook, accusing it of an illegal monopoly, and the company denied the allegation.
The committee wants technology companies to explain in detail how many users each company has, how active they are, and what is known about them as well.
The inquiry also asks the platforms to hand over information about how the data collected is processed and how advertising and engagement practices affect young and underage users.
Lawmakers, civil rights groups and consumers have put large tech companies under the spotlight this year.
And the Wall Street Journal reported how apps share user information with Facebook, The newspaper also revealed that Amazon has been collecting data from independent sellers and using it to build its own competing products.
In August, parents of dozens of minors filed a lawsuit against TikTok, claiming that the app collects information about users’ faces, locations and close contacts.
The lawsuit alleges that the company is sending that data to servers in China without the users’ knowledge and may share it with the Chinese Communist Party.
The Norwegian Consumer Council released a report in January showing that 10 apps collected sensitive information, including the user’s exact location, religious and political beliefs, and other information.
The apps transferred personal data to at least 135 different third-party companies.