On Friday June 3, a bipartisan group of leaders from key House and Senate committees released a new “discussion draft” bill to establish nationwide standards for consumer privacy. The proposal (the American Data Privacy and Protection Act) builds on prior bills put forth by both Democrats and Republicans, as well as principles and provisions contained in the GDPR and State privacy laws. Of significance, the bill reflects bipartisan compromise on two thorny issues that have divided the parties for years – whether to preempt state privacy laws and/or include a private right of action. While the bill has been hailed as a “breakthrough,” the prospects for passage are uncertain, particularly in this busy election year.
Why is this bill significant?
As most of our readers know, the US has no overarching federal privacy law – only sector-specific laws such as GLBA and COPPA. This patchy, confusing scheme has become even more complex with passage of the GDPR (which applies to US multinational companies) and five comprehensive State laws. While many federal bills have come and gone over the years, none reflect the high-level bipartisan compromise evident here – both on longstanding privacy concepts (notice, choice, access, security) as well as more specific concerns about discrimination, algorithms, platforms, data brokers, targeted ads, and corporate accountability. If passed, the bill would apply to virtually all companies doing business in the US.
Why is this happening now?
While many observers wish a bipartisan bill had been proposed earlier, the forces driving this bill forward have never been stronger. Passage of State laws is accelerating, the EU is exerting greater influence over privacy worldwide, and the FTC is planning to launch wide-ranging privacy rulemakings. In addition, Senator Wicker, one of the bill’s authors and a longtime leader on privacy, may soon vacate his slot as Commerce’s top Republican, motivating him to cement his legacy now. To cap it all off, while election year is indeed a difficult year to pass a bill like this, it’s also creating pressure to make one last effort on privacy.
Continue Reading New Bipartisan Federal Privacy Bill – Breakthrough, Too Late, or Both?