Senators call for Commission to advance racial justice by protecting consumers, address discriminatory online practices, biometric surveillance, consumer predation, anti-competitive behavior

Washington (June 22, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) led his Senate colleagues in a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, urging the Commission to use the full scope of its authority to protect Black, Brown, and Indigenous consumers, communities of color, and immigrant communities from discrimination in the marketplace. In their letter, the Senators commend the FTC for initial steps it has taken to limit the negative impact of biased algorithms on communities of color and note that – with a full complement of five Commissioners – the FTC has the responsibility to use every tool at its disposal to protect consumers from the harms stemming from discriminatory online practices, biometric surveillance, consumer predation, and anti-competitive behavior.

“Consumers in Black communities, other communities of color, and immigrant communities are often harmed first and worst in today’s economy,” wrote the Senators. “We commend you for your attention to the unique threats to these individuals and call on you to do even more to address these issues.”

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

In addition to Senator Markey, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) signed onto this letter.

In their letter, the Senators call on the FTC to develop a plan to: \

  1. Build on the Commission’s guidance regarding biased algorithms and use its full enforcement and rulemaking authority to stop damaging practices involving online data and artificial intelligence; 
  2. Combat invasive and discriminatory biometric surveillance tools, which pose unique threats to Black, Brown, Indigenous, and immigrant communities due to accuracy issues and over-surveillance of these communities; 
  3. Double down on efforts to identify how scams and fraud target marginalized communities, and pursue aggressive enforcement against scammers; and
  4. Adopt an approach to competition policy that advances racial justice when evaluating mergers and considering antitrust action or guidance.