May 28, 2021
Each month, Adstra chief privacy officer Jason Bier compiles a roundup of the latest developments on privacy regulation in the US and abroad.
For this latest article, Jason considers the growing chorus of calls for the US Congress to pass preemptive national privacy legislation as an alternative to legislation currently moving forward at the state level. This dynamic is heating up.
Over the past month, we’ve seen two major national privacy bills introduced in the Senate. These come at a time when legislation advanced in multiple states threatens to create an uneven – and unenforceable – patchwork of inconsistent standards across the country.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Kennedy, Joe Manchin, and Richard Burr introduced the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021. The bill would “give consumers the right to opt-out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection” and “mandate that users be notified of a breach of their information within 72 hours,” the sponsors said. The Verge, Gizmodo, andArs Technica reported on the bill.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan) reintroduced the Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act. “More and more Americans are recognizing the need for a clear federal standard for data privacy that guarantees them the ability to determine how their personal data is used,” said Senator Moran. “Americans need to be able to count on strong baseline responsibilities that businesses must uphold when collecting, processing, and protecting their personally identifiable information. Without action from Congress, consumers will continue to be vulnerable to future threats against their personal data, and innovators and job creators will be plagued with regulatory uncertainty resulting from a growing patchwork of state laws,” Moran said. National Retail Federation, Main Street Privacy Coalition, BSA – The Software Alliance, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Garmin, and the Kansas City Tech Council support the bill, according to Moran.
Industry POV on national legislation
Support for a national approach is rising among different stakeholders throughout the value chain, from consumers to advertisers, publishers, and tech companies.
A survey by Morning Consult found that 83% of voters said Congressshould make privacy a “top” or “ important but lower” priority in 2021. Support was strong across both parties as 86% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans shared these views.
ANA called on Congress to set a national privacy standard by passing a strong, preemptive federal privacy law following the failure of bills in legislatures in Florida and Washington State. ANA Group EVP of Government Relations Dan Jaffe commented, “the pressure that state legislatures are feeling to pass privacy laws is evidence of the need for leadership from Congress on this very important issue,” adding further, “Congress must provide consistent federal privacy protections to consumers nationwide and create an environment where businesses can thrive.” The group’s press release mentioned its support for Privacy for America.
Alison Pepper of the 4A’s discussed Privacy for America and federal data privacy legislation at a webinar sponsored by the Coalition for Healthcare Communication. “We have been working with Republicans and Democrats and all committees with jurisdiction to help them understand … what we think privacy legislation should look like,” Pepper said. She said the goal is to craft legislation that covers the entire spectrum of marketing data uses outside of specific laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “There is a pretty warm reception on the Hill to some of the concepts in the Privacy for America draft legislation.”
Oracle called for a two-tiered privacy law: “one for Big Tech and one for everyone else; one for the propagators of the surveillance economy and one for everyone else; one for the recidivist privacy offenders, and one for everyone else.”
An opinion column in VentureBeat outlined the costs to the U.S. of a fragmented approach to privacy regulation.
At the same time, state-level privacy regulations continue to move forward and progress.
Legislation that would require companies to obtain opt-in consent from consumers before processing their data for ad targeting and would allow class-action lawsuits over violations was approved by the Senate Consumer Protection Committee in New York.
The Florida legislature adjourned without passing data privacy legislation. The House failed to take action after a revised bill without a private right of action passed in the Senate earlier in the week. The Wall Street Journal, Tampa Bay Times, Florida Politics, and other outlets reported the news.
The Washington Privacy Actdied as the state legislature adjourned without reconciling different versions of the data privacy legislation.
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