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Big Tech Remains An Important Area of Focus for Regulators

By: Meghan Stoppel

On Wednesday, November 2, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) opened its Fall 2022 Consumer Protection conference in Washington, D.C., welcoming representatives from 27 state AG offices and just as many attendees from the private sector.

In the first of several panel discussions, a bipartisan panel of four sitting AGs and two former AGs fielded a range of questions related to their work in consumer protection. The AGs were asked to identify, for example, the most significant consumer protection issues facing their states, and not surprisingly, the answers were similar but not necessarily the same. Tennessee’s Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti reiterated his office’s focus on “big tech.” Attorney General Kwame Raoul of Illinois mentioned online platforms and the need for self-policing to protect consumers. Nebraska’s Attorney General Doug Peterson expressed concerns with social media and data privacy, and Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh highlighted his office’s focus on protecting Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens from predatory lenders and unscrupulous landlords. The AGs also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the role of multistate investigations, and how they set priorities for their consumer protection divisions. Both Republican and Democratic AGs on the panel reiterated their commitment to participating in multistates, often describing them as “critical” to their offices, especially as new trends emerge and investigative costs continue to rise.

After hearing from the AGs, attendees heard from three additional panels, on topics ranging from the use of compliance monitors in state AG settlements to recent consumer protection legislation, including state privacy laws. Representatives from the Colorado and Connecticut AG offices presented on their state privacy laws, emphasizing both the similarities and differences between their respective statutes. Both laws, with limited exceptions, go into effect on July 1, 2023. Similar legislative, rulemaking and litigation updates were provided at the end of the public session, with a panel of representatives from the private sector and the Arkansas and North Carolina AG offices discussing how the FTC’s activity and recently-enacted state legislation may impact both consumers and businesses.