George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Webinar: 2023 Privacy Update: FTC, Congress, and the States


2023 is turning out to be an eventful year for privacy policy.  The FTC has proposed modifications to its Facebook order that would keep Facebook from monetizing data from minors, and has flexed its enforcement powers through a broad interpretation of its Health Breach Notification Rule—one that it now wants to codify.  At the same time, a federal judge dismissed the Commission’s case against Kochava for failure to sufficiently allege consumer harm, and the Supreme Court dealt it another blow to the FTC in Axon, which is likely to spur additional challenges to the constitutionality of the FTC and its (recently amended) administrative adjudication procedures.   All the while, Congress continues to consider various privacy bills, with the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) appearing to gain the most traction.  And states are jumping in to fill the void left by congressional inaction with their own privacy laws, as well as laws directed at social media platforms.

Adam Kovacevich, Founder, CEO, Chamber of Progress
Maneesha Mithal, Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Andrew Stivers, Director, NERA Economic Consulting
Moderated by:
James C. Cooper, Professor of Law; Director, Program on Economics & Privacy, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

New Publication: COPPAcalypse? The Youtube Settlement’s Impact on Kids Content

New research from James Cooper, Garrett Johnson, Tesary Lin, and  Liang Zhong uses YouTube’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) as a natural experiment to evaluate the impact of eliminating personalization— including tailored ads and platform features like personalized search and content recommendations—on made-for-kids content.  The study of  5,066 top American YouTube channels from 2018-2020 finds that child-directed content creators produce 13% less content and pivot towards producing non-child-directed content. On the demand side, views of child-directed channels fall by 22%. Consistent with the platform’s degraded capacity to match viewers to content, the study finds that content creation and content views become more concentrated among top child-directed YouTube channels.  Read the full study here.

PEP files comment in response to the FTC’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Last week the LEC’s Program on Economics & Privacy (PEP), along with University of Arizona’s TechLaw, filed a comment in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on “Commercial Surveillance and Data Security.”

The Comment urges the FTC to refrain from issuing a proposed Commercial Surveillance rule. After describing the available empirical evidence—which shows the tremendous consumer value generated by the online ad-supported ecosystem and little reason to believe that consumers suffer widespread harm from the routine collection and use of data in the online commercial context—the Comment concludes that departure from the FTC’s current case-by-case application of Section 5, in favor of broad prohibitions on the collection and use of data, is likely to do more harm than good.

You can view the full joint comment here.

Episode 5: Ginger Jin and Liad Wagman sit down with James C. Cooper to discuss their recent research on the impact of GDPR on investment.

Ginger Zhe Jin is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also the ADVANCE Professor of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University since September 2021. Most of her research focuses on information asymmetry among economic agents and how to provide information to overcome the information problem. The applications she has studied include retail food safety, health insurance, prescription drugs, e-commerce, regulatory inspection, scientific innovation, air quality, blood donation, vaccination, intrafamilial interaction, data regulation, and consumer protection. She is currently co-editor of Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, associate editor of RAND Journal of Economics, advisory council member of Journal of Industrial Economics, and board member of Industrial Organization Society. She has been Research Associate of NBER since 2012.

Liad Wagman is the John and Mae Calamos Dean Endowed Chair and professor of economics and at Stuart School of Business at Illinois Tech. Wagman works on topics in the areas of information economics, industrial organization, law and economics, and entrepreneurship, studying issues concerning market competition and antitrust, data utilization and privacy, innovation, and new venture financing. Wagman is a Competition Fellow at the Data Catalyst Institute, and was Senior Economic and Technology Advisor of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning, a Visiting Associate Professor of Executive Education and Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a Visiting Scholar at the Duke University Economics Department, a research fellow at the Duke University Computer Science Department, and a research fellow at the Duke University Social Sciences Research Institute

Episode 4: Garrett Johnson discusses his newly published research on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with James C. Cooper.

Garrett Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Boston University, Questrom School of Business. Prof. Johnson’s research on Internet Marketing examines online display advertising: the medium’s effectiveness and privacy issues. His ad effectiveness research uses large-scale experiments to measure how and how much ads work. His privacy research quantifies the value of online behavioral targeting to industry and considers the impact of policy & self-regulatory approaches. Prof. Johnson works with Internet companies—including Google and Yahoo!—to answer these questions with Internet-scale data. For his work, Prof. Johnson has been awarded the Paul Green Award and has been a finalist for both the John D.C. Little Award and the Gary Lilien Marketing Science Practice Prize.

Research Papers:
Samuel Goldberg, Garrett Johnson & Scott Shriver, Regulating Privacy Online: An Economic Evaluation of the GDPR (Law & Economics Center at George Mason University Scalia Law School Research Paper Series No. 22-025, 2022).
Samuel Goldberg, Garrett Johnson & Scott Shriver, Privacy & Market Concentration: Intended & Unintended Consequences of the GDPR (September 21, 2022).

(Video) Research Paper Summary: Effects of Conferring Business Resource on Rivals

In this video, Dr. Jamison summarizes his working paper “Effects of Conferring Business Resource on Rivals,” presented at the Research Roundtable on the Data-Competition Interface hosted by the Law & Economics Center’s Program on Economics & Privacy on March 31, 2022, at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, VA.

Dr. Mark Jamison is the Director and Gerald Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center (PURC), and Director of the Digital Markets Initiative (DMI) at the University of Florida.