In recent weeks, FTC and HHS have announced expansion of the operational areas of their organizations that are dedicated to enforcement of laws and regulations related to technology, privacy, and cybersecurity.
On February 17, 2023, the FTC announced the creation of a new Office of Technology in order to “strengthen the FTC’s ability to keep pace with technological challenges in the digital marketplace”, including to “strengthen and support law enforcement investigations and actions.” The Office of Technology will be headed by Stephanie T. Nguyen, who highlighted FTC’s need to develop “in-house skills…to fully grasp evolving technologies and market trends…to tackle unlawful business practices and protect Americans.” According to a blog post by Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, the roles that currently fall under the Consumer Protection Bureau’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTECH) will be moved to the new Office of Technology.
On February 27, 2023, HHS announced the rebranding and reorganization for divisions within the Office for Civil Rights. The Health Information Privacy Division (HIP) will be rebranded as the Health Information Privacy, Data, and Cybersecurity Division (HIPDC) to better align with OCR’s “work and role in cybersecurity.” Responsibilities of functional areas dedicated to Policy, Strategic Planning, and Enforcement will also be created in the Health Information Privacy, Operations and Resources, Civil Rights, and the Conscience and Religious Freedom divisions “to better use OCR’s limited resources by moving to a skill set model.”
These announcements further underscore the administrative focus on digital health privacy, emphasized by recent HHS guidance on the use of tracking technologies and FTC enforcement against GoodRx for alleged failures to comply with the Health Breach Notification Rule and violations of Section 5 of the FTC Act.