Amicus Brief of ICLE & TEchfreedom, LabMD Inc., v. Federal Trade Commission, 11th Circuit
48 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019
Date Written: January 3, 2017
The touchstone for Section 5 actions is not “reasonableness,” but consumer welfare: Does this enforcement action deter a preventable “unfair” act or practice that, on net, harms consumer welfare, and do the benefits to consumers from this action outweigh its costs? Section 5’s purpose is neither fundamentally remedial nor prescriptive. Concern for consumer welfare means deterring bad conduct, avoiding over-deterrence of pro-consumer conduct, minimizing compliance costs, and minimizing administrative costs (by focusing only on substantial harms) — not preventing every possible harm. Instead of weighing such factors carefully, or even performing a proper analysis of negligence, as it purports to do, the Commission has effectively created a strict liability standard unmoored from Section 5.
Across the Commission’s purported guidance on data security, it has likewise failed to articulate a standard by which companies themselves should weigh costs and benefits to determine which risks are sufficiently foreseeable that they can be mitigated cost-effectively. Thus, in addition to violating the intent of Congress, the FTC has also violated the Constitution by failing to provide companies like LabMD with “fair notice” of the agency’s interpretation of what Section 5 requires.
Keywords: Consumer Protection, Cybersecurity, Data Security, FTC, FTC Act Section 5, FTC Reform, LabMD, Privacy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation