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HomeNewsLawmakers Float New Rules for Personal Data Protection

Lawmakers Float New Rules for Personal Data Protection

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Two influential lawmakers from opposing parties have crafted a deal on a bill to strengthen privacy protections for Americans’ personal data. The new proposal, announced on Sunday, April 7, 2024, would define privacy as a consumer right.

A picture of the lawmakers proposing the bill
Source: CNN/X

Furthermore, it will create new rules for companies that collect and use personal information. The new legislation comes from the offices of Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Notably, the lawmakers are from Washington state.

Cantwell chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, while McMorris Rodgers leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee. While they have not formally introduced the proposal, which remains in draft form, the bipartisan support suggests the bill could get serious consideration.

Before the two lawmakers crafted this legislation, Congress had long discussed ways to protect personal data. They have sought ways to regulate data regularly submitted by Americans to various businesses and services. However, partisan disputes over the details have doomed previous proposals.

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According to the outline released on Sunday, the bill the two lawmakers worked out is on the right path. It would strengthen rules requiring consumer consent before a company can collect or transfer certain information.

Also, companies would have to notify consumers about the details of data collection and retention policies. Companies would also have to seek consumer permission for significant changes.

In addition, they would have to ensure that any algorithms used to analyze personal data aren’t biased. The bill also states that companies that buy and sell personal data must register with the Federal Trade Commission.

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Besides ensuring that companies are accountable for how they use consumers’ information, it provides consumers with a choice. Consumers would have greater control over how companies use their data under the measure. Furthermore, one provision of the proposal would allow consumers to opt out of targeted ads. 

Therefore, they can opt out of advertisements sent to them based on their personal data. Since most consumers have no idea what happens to their data, the bill is also gaining public support. With the additional provision of opting out of targeted ads, Americans are eager to see the bill passed in the House.

While the legislation is still in its draft form, reports say the FTC would have the authority to enact new rules as technology changes. Hence, lawmakers will create a new bureau focused on data privacy within the FTC. As a result, legislation enforcement would fall to the FTC and state attorneys general.

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As mentioned, Congress has tried several times to introduce personal data protection laws. However, partisan disputes impede lawmakers’ efforts to pass the legislation. Conversely, the newly introduced bipartisan personal data protection rules appear to gather momentum in the House.

The proposal also gains support from Americans, who have long called for personal data protection laws. If passed, the new standard would preempt most state privacy laws. However, it wouldn’t impact certain states’ laws already in the books that protect financial, health, or employee data.

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