Senate Republican Proposes Federal Privacy Bill

In an interesting turn of events, Republican US Senator Roger Wicker’s staff has written a draft federal privacy bill.   It’s main goal is to overturn California’s privacy law that goes into effect in January.

Of course, there are only 28 days between now and January 1, so I would be really surprised if the bill made it through the House and Senate and gets signed by the President.  Still it is interesting.

Wicker, who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, says it offers more detailed consumer protections, covers more companies, and has more explicit requirements that companies collect the minimum amount of personal data needed for their purpose.

*IF* that is true, I can’t imagine that Facebook, Google and the like will sign on to supported it, but who knows.

I have not seen a copy of the draft, although the Senator has given Reuters a copy.

One challenge is this:  The Democrats won’t support a bill that preempts state law and the Republicans won’t support one that doesn’t preempt state law.  I am not sure how you resolve that.

Reuters says the draft covers any company doing business across state lines (a one person company?  Non-profits?), expands the definition of sensitive information to include biometrics, requires companies to have clear and conspicuous privacy policies (that no one reads) and would allow consumers to request to have inaccurate information corrected.

What I don’t see, from the Reuters article, is that consumers have any rights in their data.  No right to get a copy of their data, no right to stop companies from selling their data, no right to have their data deleted, etc.  BUT, I have not seen the actual draft bill.

If those rights are not there, I can’t see how Wicker can say with a straight face that the bill is better than California’s current law, unless he means better for Google, Facebook and others.

There also does not appear to be any right for consumers to sue.

If the consumers don’t have any rights from under this law and if it preempts state law, then I think that the Facebooks and Googles of the world will support it, even if it isn’t perfect.

Wicker’s committee is holding a hearing Wednesday which will include lawyers from Microsoft and Walmart.

Wicker said “If there is something weak here, if there are other protections that need to be added, let’s add them, but let’s make it a nationwide standard.”

If he is serious, that is great, but I think that companies that earn all of their money by selling your data are not very interested in giving consumers rights to their data or the right to sue.

I said months ago that I doubted that a federal law would be passed and signed anytime soon.  The two sides are still far apart.  However, I could be wrong.

Stay tuned!  Source: Reuters



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