By Justin Sanders
Do the words “Federal Trade Commission filing” suddenly make you really tired? We can’t say we blame you. We just filed one of these things ourselves and believe us, it wasn’t a walk in the park. FTC filings are dense, they’re dry and not for the faint of heart – and they are not nearly as fun as the stuff we normally like to run on the CreativeFuture blog.
But, this is how government works. People always say, “If you don’t like what the government is doing, get involved” – and that’s why we submitted this FTC filing with the backing of thousands of our members and supporters.
The Federal Trade Commission is about to kick off a historic series of Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. This is bigtime, folks.
After years of basically ignoring the growing impact of technology on our society – thanks to a lot of propaganda that “what’s good for Big Tech is good for the USA” – the FTC is finally getting around to conducting a serious examination of the impact of technology on our society. In the coming months, they will take a look at major internet platforms and possibly hold them accountable for the immense amounts of harm they have done to individuals and companies alike for too many years.
So yeah, you better believe we made sure to let the FTC know where we stand – and plenty of other coalitions, trade groups, associations, and companies did too. And you better believe that it’s important for you – as a person who cares deeply about creatives and the future of creativity in an increasingly harsh internet world – to know what the FTC is hearing.
We’ve made it easy for you – by combing filings from select groups and breaking out representative statements that summarize their position. And so, as we gear up for the hearings beginning on September 13, here are eight more reasons why we need platform accountability – FTC filing edition!
1.) Because Outdated “Safe Harbor” Laws = Creative Theft
“To a significant extent, [internet platforms] are able to hide behind flawed safe harbor provisions that pre-date the consumer internet as we know it. These overbroad safe harbors have been exploited not only by global criminal piracy operations but also by the internet platform providers themselves, which profit enormously from clicks and advertising by or for those seeking (and often steered by the platforms to) infringing content.”
2.) Because Creative Theft is Destroying Creative Livelihoods
“We in the creative community are in desperate need of help to rein in digital platforms, which dominate our nation’s economy and dictate our personal livelihoods. We are not another large, faceless corporation that can afford daily battles with YouTube, Google and Facebook to remove pirated and unauthorized content; we are a group of independent creators who have virtually no chance of protecting our work and getting due compensation without government intervention.”
3.) Because Creative Theft is Destroying Creative Companies
“The harm piracy causes copyright owners and creators is well-established, but it causes harm to distributors of content and platforms as well. The availability of pirated works lowers the demand for legitimate services and unduly reduces the price they can set. The inability to continue to invest in the creation and distribution of the type of copyrighted works demanded by consumers ultimately harms consumers by reducing the supply of new works and impairing innovation in the distribution of works… Finally, piracy removes the ability to produce high-quality and high-value content as a competitive advantage. It also removes pricing as a competitive advantage, since the marginal cost of piracy approaches zero. The result is a “winner-takes-all” market.
4.) Because Destroying Creative Companies Threatens Entire Creative Industries
“While the internet creates opportunities for expanded distribution, new audiences, and new revenue streams for independents, it also has fostered the biggest threat to our industry: online infringement is allowed to flourish without any effective way under current law to prevent or stop the introduction and rapid proliferation of infringing copies across the internet. It is a painful irony that the platforms are able to turn down legitimate independent content offers while also refusing to proactively prevent that same content from being uploaded illegally via their broadband services.”
5.) Because They Are Stealing Our Data and Selling it to the Highest Bidder
“Despite the Commission’s efforts to protect consumers, consumers face enormous challenges navigating today’s marketplace, making it harder than ever to avoid fraud, deception, and other harms. Every day, they face 24-hour data collection and advertising, phishing attempts, imposter scams, massive data breaches, highly sophisticated frauds, and confusion about who they can trust. Although consumers are increasingly interested in protecting their privacy and the security of their data, they are unable to do so, because it is too time-consuming and hard for consumers to effectively manage the amount of data that is collected about them.”
6.) Because We Are Powerless to Resist Their Power to Surveil
“The current structure of the social media market is radical; no one company should control news and information flows for billions of people and be able to blithely expose the data of millions of users without regulatory consequence because its size and scope prevent users from going elsewhere. Breaking up Facebook would begin to introduce fairness and market-based competition to the sector.”
7.) Because Their Surveillance Tools Cause Real-World Harm to Underserved Communities
“Used responsibly, big data and algorithms can improve marketing, fraud detection, and other services… But the Commission found that these tools can also be used to target vulnerable populations with predatory or fraudulent offers and exclude minority groups from important opportunities… The Commission should use its consumer protection authority to ensure that everyone – not just majority groups – can enjoy the benefits of innovative uses of data. Specifically, the Commission should enforce against exclusionary and exploitative ad targeting as unfair trade practices.”
– Center for Democracy and Technology Filing
8.) Because We Have Let This Go On For Far Too Long
“We have seen numerous examples of these giants abusing their power and their dominant market position to undermine competition, consumer privacy, and our democratic rights. These companies have been allowed to reach their current size and power due to a relative lack of scrutiny and oversight by regulators. It is time for regulators, including this Commission, to step in now to change course in order to protect the public interest.”
As you can see, we weren’t kidding about the importance of the Federal Trade Commission taking a look at how companies like Google, Facebook, and the rest of the Silicon Valley titans are affecting our economy, businesses, and lives.
CreativeFuture will stay on top of these FTC hearings. We will be the voice of creatives and friends of creativity, and we will ask you to speak up to make sure that the FTC – and all of Washington – take these concerns seriously.
That’s why we’re here!
Thank you for your ongoing support and always remember to #StandCreative!