Elon University

Keynote – US Federal Trade Commission Member Maureen Ohlhausen Discusses Privacy, Data Protection and Cybersecurity Issues

IGF USA LogoBrief session description:

Monday, July 24, 2017 –  Maureen Ohlhausen, acting chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission since 2012, delivered a talk during the afternoon plenary session of IGF-USA 2017 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Read the print story and see video highlights on this page. You can view the full, archived video of Ohlhausen’s talk here.

Details of the session:

Maureen Ohlhausen, acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, explained how outdated online regulations can sometimes halt the progress of commerce and actually hurt private citizens whose jobs predominantly have an online presence. And, as a result, it “limits human opportunity—both online and offline,” she said.

Ohlhausen, whose expertise spans privacy, data collection and cybersecurity, referred to a Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that declared states could no longer ban the out-of-state shipping of wine directly to consumers. The decision deregulated, in some ways, the selling of alcohol in the United States.

But in the decade since the decision, Ohlhausen said, there is still a barrier making it difficult for people to make a profit: excessive online licensing. Today, between 20-30 percent of businesses require an online license.

And because states vary in what they require for a license, she said it may be confusing for some parties involved.

“While licensing is necessary of some occupations, there is strong evidence that most occupational licenses are unnecessary,” Ohlhausen said. “These regulations cost money and time and working ability because they frequently do not accept licenses from another state.”

Ohlhausen said another example of deregulation occurred in May when Texas Govenor Greg Abbott signed a law that allowed doctors to use telemedicine services on patients whom they hadn’t seen in person. Prior to this, patients were required to visit doctors in person.

Ohlhausen said that instance was a key victory in changing the narrative of online regulations. But it didn’t end the war.

Olhausen Speaking at IGF PhotoPresident Donald Trump designated Ohlhausen as acting chairman of the FTC Jan. 25. In the six months since, Ohlhausen said she’s been trying to fix the problem of over regulation. It’s why she said she created the Economic Liberty Task Force.

The task force’s first meeting is July 27, and Ohlhausen said she is willing to work with stakeholders and outside parties. And while she said some regulations are justified and needed, she is just trying to look out for the ones that have lost their relevance.

“If we want the consumer to have the benefits, we need to also pay attention to sometimes very well meaning regulations that are a barrier to that,” Ohlhausen said. “The online world and the offline world are very different places. But economic liberty is as important in the online world as it is in the offline world. And unless we preserve economic liberty online and off, we can never reach our potential.”

– By Emmanuel Morgan

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The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at IGF-USA 2017 included the following Elon University School of Communications students, staff and faculty:

Janna Anderson, Bryan Baker, Camille Behnke, Liam Collins, Diego Pineda Davila, Colin Donohue, Maya Eaglin, Christina Elias, Meagan Gitelman, Alex Hager, Tommy Kopetskie, Deirdre Kronschnabel, Jared Mayerson, Emmanuel Morgan, Grace Morris, Jackie Pascale, Mariah Posey, Alexandra Roat, Ginna Royalty, Alexandra Schonfeld, Jamie Snover, Erik Webb, Brooke Wivagg