President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Monday in honor of National Consumer Protection Week, an annual event the Federal Trade Commission describes as “a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money.”
“The economic strength and vitality of our nation,” Trump’s proclamation said, “is directly linked to our consumers’ confidence in the integrity and security of their personal information and the robust protection of their privacy.”
It’s a bit of a mixed message, however.
That’s because the Trump administration recently eliminated or proposed eliminating a host of consumer protections, including a requirement that users opt in before cable and telecommunications companies are allowed to sell their web browsing data to advertisers, and a rule requiring financial advisers to make decisions in the best interests of their clients.
In fact, the New York Times reported Sunday that since taking office, Trump has repealed or indicated an interest in repealing Obama-era regulations in response to at least 12 requests from companies. Some of those regulations sought to address the protection of streams from coal mining, barring the mentally ill from buying guns, and preventing financial collapse.
Trump’s Monday proclamation highlighting the importance of protecting consumers’ data and privacy came just days after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rolled back Obama-era regulations that required Verizon, Comcast, and other major cable companies to take “reasonable measures to protect consumer [information] from unauthorized use, disclosure, or access.”
Pai justified the policy shift by highlighting the “substantial costs and burdens” companies might face when protecting their customers from cybercrimes.
However, according to Trump’s proclamation, cybercrimes also “cost our families billions of dollars each year and result in tremendous stress, loss of time, and hardship.”