WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. Amy Klobuchar took the first major step toward ending the Federal Trade Commission’s de facto ban on political data firms advertising their services in political ads during the next election, on Wednesday.
Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, applauded the Senate’s unanimous approval of Jonathan Kanter as the acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. Kanter was nominated for the role in April. Klobuchar said in a statement that she intends to use Kanter’s experience leading a “data-driven competition agency” at the FTC to use it to fight for greater consumer protections in Washington.
The move sends Kanter to the FTC’s headquarters as acting director, fulfilling the agency’s sole purpose under the law, which has been a point of contention in the Senate. The Commission was given no legal authority to regulate “political advertising” after a 1977 Supreme Court decision, and Klobuchar and Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, have introduced legislation in recent years to reopen the agency’s inquiry on whether modern-day advertising methods have changed the way it regulates.
Klobuchar wrote in a July report that lobbyists with data-mining companies in particular have tried to find ways around the 1992 ban on political advertising, and pointed to an example from in June. Twitter reversed its decision to ban a consulting firm from paying for ads related to Medicare for All after the consultant asked for permission to advertise on the social media platform.
The Fed ultimately settled the case by not penalizing Twitter or advertising the consulting firm, Campogriffs Strategic, but the lobbying case has been cited as a reason for the agency’s refusal to review political advertising ads over the past several years.