CDD Statement on FTC Commissioner Julie Brill

Jeff Chester

Julie Brill faces a formidable task as she tries to balance what she knows are industry-wide practices that undermine privacy with the intense commercial pressures to financially harvest our data. Whether Julie can successfully act as a one woman privacy truth squad is to early to tell. She recognizes all the ways that companies take advantage of consumers today, including tracking them on every device and wherever they are. Consumer groups will expect Julie to push her powerful clients to change how the way they do business today, where—despite lip service to the contrary— privacy is viewed as an impediment to success in the marketplace. Whether Julie Brill can survive as a privacy Wallanda is to early to tell. She will face an industry that is largely in denial of what they do with our data. Julie does have the skills to walk the privacy tightrope. She has often reconciled her decades long role as a consumer advocate with work to get industry to act more responsibly—especially regarding how they collect and use consumer information. Julie Brill has been an extraordinary FTC commissioner who has played an important role supporting the strongest possible consumer protection actions by the agency. She has a unique, deep and personal relationship with many in the consumer community. She is already missed. The hiring of Julie Brill is not only the recognition by Hogan Lovells that she is extraordinarily well-connected, knowledgable and skilled. Hogan recognizes that powerful changes are now underway, led by the EU, that will potentially transform how consumer information is treated. The new (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—its privacy law—is going to give new rights to the public that will force companies to treat our data differently. The uncertainty of the future of digital trade between the U.S. and EU also plays a role in Julie’s hiring I believe. With Safe Harbor struck down by the EU Court of Justice and privacy advocates threatening to see the same legal outcome for its replacement—the Privacy Shield—Hogan’s clients (and the industry) need someone like Julie who is respected by many powerful EU officials. With the US/EU trade deal that focuses on digital trade and data flows now being negotiated (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP), the stakes are enormous in whether the U.S. data companies can win favorable rules.