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Content Groups Warn FTC Over ‘Troubling’ Application of EU Privacy Laws

The Federal Trade Commission building in
Alex Brandon/AP/REX/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Groups representing producers, filmmakers and other content creators are warning the Federal Trade Commission over the unintended consequences of adopting sweeping online privacy laws akin to those in the European Union.

The FTC is reviewing privacy regulations and has been holding a series of hearings, including one scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

CreativeFuture, the Independent Film and Television Alliance and the Copyright Alliance say that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect last year, has hindered their ability to combat piracy. They contend that the sweeping measure restricts the availability of domain name data from a database overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. They say that such information is critical to enforcement of online infringement.

“This is extremely troubling for the creative communities — which depend on enforcement efforts by government agencies and their own internal investigations to limit or stop the online digital theft of their goods,” the groups said in a letter to the FTC. “A misapplication of [European Union privacy] principles in the United States would be painfully detrimental to the 5.7 million Americans who depend on copyright to make a living — as yet another tool that aids in mitigating this theft is stripped away under the guise of privacy protections.”

According to their letter, domain name providers are refusing to make the data publicly available following the implementation of the privacy law.

“The people who make up the creative communities understand the importance of oversight when it comes to the rampant privacy violations that are so common online, but not at the expense of allowing piracy website operators to continue to violate the law without consequence,” they wrote in the letter.

The letter was signed by Keith Kupferschmid, the CEO of the Copyright Alliance; Ruth Vitale, the CEO of Creative Future; and Jean Prewitt, the president and CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance.