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Regulating Immortal Accounts

How the FTC Can Limit Unwanted Data Retention

This report argues that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should take action to end “immortal accounts,” a phenomenon by which entities make it difficult or impossible to delete a consumer account in order to retain and profit from the user’s data and continue charging subscriptions. The practice wastes consumers’ time and money. The report argues that an FTC rule requiring reasonable cancellation practices for all market actors and providing clear and specific guidelines would address the harms of immortal accounts. Such regulation would fall under the FTC’s authority and advance the Commission’s mission to protect consumers and competition by preventing deceptive, unfair, and anticompetitive business practices.