Will 2021 be the year that we finally get a federal consumer privacy law?

By: Linda Coniglio, Director of Privacy and Information Governance 

On March 10, Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) introduced the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act which creates a national data privacy standard to protect personal information. The bill develops a digital privacy framework to complement global standards and combat anti-consumer practices.

“Data privacy is a 21st Century issue of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights; and the US has no policy to protect our most sensitive personal information from abuse. With states understandably advancing their own legislation in the absence of federal policy, Congress needs to prioritize creating a strong national standard to protect all Americans. This bill will create those critical protections,” said DelBene.

Highlights

  • Creates a uniform set of consumer rights — one set of rules for businesses
  • Protects personal information relating to financial, health, genetic, biometric, geolocation as well as social security numbers and children’s information to name a few
  • Privacy policies must use plain English
  • Requires opt-in consent for the use of sensitive personal data that may be used in ways not expected by the consumer
  • Increases transparency as companies must disclose if and with whom their personal information will be shared and the purpose of sharing it
  • Preempts conflicting state laws
  • Gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule making authority and state attorneys general power to pursue violations if the FTC chooses not to act
  • Requires companies to submit privacy audits every 2 years from a neutral third party

Many elements are similar to our current state privacy laws and those under consideration.  

Time for optimism?

Political parties seem to be nearing consensus on federal privacy legislation and business has reasons to support it – one key reason being last summer’s Schrems II decision regarding transborder data flows with Europe.

According to Tom Quaadman, Executive Vice President, US Chamber Technology Engagement Center, “It’s time for Congress to pass a national privacy law that gives every American the right to control their privacy, no matter where they live, with a clear set of rules for all businesses, no matter where they operate.”  The US Chamber of Commerce also supports its passage. 

Stay tuned.  This bill just may have a chance.  Fingers crossed.  

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