A national data privacy bill is gaining traction, but not everyone is yet on board
By Marty Swant
Major digital advertising regulation is finally getting traction in Congress, but advertising and consumer advocates alike say there are still plenty of kinks to sort out.
The U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee voted on Wednesday to pass the American Data Privacy And Protection Act (ADPPA), which would have a widespread impact on how data can be collected, used and shared for marketing and other purposes. The bipartisan bill—which passed 53 to 2—marks the first time data privacy legislation has made it past the committee stage, despite years of efforts by top lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.
Although there is not yet a timeline for next steps, the landmark legislation still needs to gain the support of key members of the House and the U.S. Senate. However, industry groups said changes are needed while privacy advocates look to prevent the federal law or states’ equivalents from being watered down.
Key aspects of the ADPPA include requiring companies covered by the bill to only collect and use data that is “reasonably necessary, proportionate, and limited” for their business and also to let people turn off targeted ads. The bill would also ban targeted ads for children, limit companies from profiting from sensitive topics—including health, race, religion, finances, and precise location data—and give more enforcement powers to federal and state officials, while also giving consumers the right to sue companies over data privacy matters.
Since 2018, Democrat and Republican lawmakers have tried to pass data privacy legislation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal shed light on the range of ways consumers often unwittingly share their personal data. Until now, no bill has gained traction in Congress, prompting five states—California, Colorado, Utah, Connecticut and Virginia—to pass their own limits on data collection and usage. While privacy advocates have pushed for a U.S. law applied equally across the country, state-led initiatives have prompted companies and trade groups to push for ending what they describe as a “patchwork” approach to regulation.
Complexities lead lawmakers to differing paths
Despite the major milestone, there’s no guarantee the ADPPA will become law. Key members of the U.S. Senate have yet to express a willingness to support it and some House members that voted to move the bill forward said they wouldn’t necessarily approve it on the House floor. Issues that still need to be hashed out include whether to create regulations around forced arbitration and how federal law would pre-empt strong privacy laws in states such as California. (The two committee members that voted against the bill were both Democrats from California: U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo and Nanette Barragan.)
Others expressed an urgency to pass national legislation during the current congressional session. In her remarks during the hearing, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky said the legislation is “groundbreaking.” However, she added that it’s “not the bill I would have written in my perfect world, but we have a mandate to move forward.
“This legislation will for the first time in our history create fundamental digital privacy rights for all Americans,” …read more