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Momentum for Federal Privacy Bill Picking Up Steam

The top Democrats from four key Senate committees have come together to issue a set of principles under which they would support a federal privacy law, including continuing to allow states to enact their own laws.

The move follows a bill that was introduced in the House of Representatives by a pair of California Democrats that would be more comprehensive than the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which is considered to be the most consumer-friendly privacy law in the country.

Joining together, under the direction of Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.], the Senate Minority Leader, were Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-Ohio], the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-Wash.], the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-Calif.], the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray [D-Wash.], the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Along with not pre-empting states from enacting their own privacy laws, the principles would limit how much personal information companies would be allowed to store about individuals, allow individuals to sue companies for violating their rights, and allow individuals to have more control over their personal information, including the right to access, delete, and correct the information stored about them.

“In an ever-evolving information age, consumers deserve to have protections from websites and online services harvesting their personal data,” Sen. Cantwell said in a statement. “They deserve to have privacy rights and have those rights protected.” 

At the same time, a bipartisan pair of Senators — Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-Conn.], and Sen. Jerry Moran [R-Kans.] — have indicated they may also be working on their own privacy bill, according to a published report.

The CCPA was enacted last year and is not scheduled to go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020, but the law gives individuals the right to ask for all of the personal information stored about them by companies for the preceding 12 months. The law gives consumers access to the information stored about them by companies and the right to request that information be deleted.

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