Retailers lead coalition to urge Congress to pass a federal privacy bill

Retailers lead coalition to urge Congress to pass a federal privacy bill
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A coalition of trade groups, led by the National Retail Federation (NRF), on Thursday sent a letter to the Senate outlining requests for federal privacy legislation.

The Main Street Privacy Coalition called on the Senate to develop a “uniform and fair framework” for privacy in a letter to Senate leadership and relevant committees.

The coalition, which launched earlier this year, is made up of trade associations that represent companies that use customers’ data for first-party use only, like retailers, hotels, grocery stores and restaurants.

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“What these industry groups have in common is they all represent companies for whom data is an important part of the business, not the sole focus of the business. They’re in the business of selling goods and services, not selling data,” David French, NRF’s senior vice president for government relations, told The Hill.

He added, “let’s focus the energy on the companies that are drilling for data, not the companies that are using data to make their businesses work better.” 

In the letter, the coalition urged Congress to pass a federal standard, as well as to provide transparency for consumers so they will be informed of the categories of personal data that businesses collect and how it is used.

It also asked for legislation to preserve the ability of consumers and businesses to voluntarily establish mutually beneficial business-customer relationships, like rewards and loyalty programs. 

Additionally, it asked that businesses not be liable for privacy violations by business partners like contractors and franchises, as well as for statutory obligations with no exemptions. 

“By developing a data privacy law that does not pick regulatory winners and losers, Congress can ensure that Americans’ privacy will be protected by federal law regardless of which business is collecting, transmitting, storing or otherwise processing their personal information,” the groups wrote.

The letter was signed by the NRF as well as the American Beverage Licensees, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the American Pizza Community, the International Franchise Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators and the National Council of Chain Restaurants.

Additionally, it was signed by the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Self Storage Association, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.