The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new initiative intended to strengthen and formalize the cooperation between the FCC and participating state attorneys general (AGs) on privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity enforcement matters.

As part of the work of the FCC’s Privacy and Data Protection Task Force, the agency’s Enforcement Bureau has signed a memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania to share expertise, resources, and coordinated efforts in conducting privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity-related investigations to protect consumers.

“Defending consumer privacy is an all-of-government responsibility and a shared challenge,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Today we take on evolving consumer threats with new formal partnerships with state law enforcement leaders, which have already been successful in obtaining record-breaking results in combatting illegal robocalls. I am thankful to these four partners for prioritizing interagency cooperation, and we welcome other state leaders to join us in this effort to ensure we work together to protect consumers and their data.”

According to the FCC, the MoU affirms that the FCC and State AGs “share close and common legal interests in working cooperatively to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute or otherwise take enforcement action in relation to privacy, data protection, or cybersecurity issues” under sections 201 and 222 of the Communications Act. The FCC further noted that coordinated action and information sharing will take place under all applicable Federal and State laws and privacy protections.

“As we see cybersecurity threats growing and evolving, we have a responsibility to do everything within our power to protect consumers and their personal information,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “This partnership between state and federal enforcement leaders will help strengthen our ability to protect consumers’ privacy and hold companies that violate the law accountable. I am proud to join my fellow attorneys general in this effort with the FCC to keep consumers safe.”

In terms of what the FCC offers to state partners, the commission said it offers partner states the expertise of its enforcement staff, as well as important resources and remedies to support state investigations. For example, the FCC said that the MoUs may facilitate relationships with other authorities in this space including other Federal agencies, and support for and expertise with critical investigative tools including subpoenas and confidential response letters from suspected targets.

“I am proud to work with the FCC to safeguard the private information of Illinoisans,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “Similar state and federal partnerships have allowed us to successfully target perpetrators of illegal robocalls. This initiative gives Illinois access to more resources for investigating and holding accountable bad actors who fail to protect or misuse personal information.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs