Key congressional lawmakers draft competing data privacy bills

Three key congressional lawmakers released a draft of a comprehensive data privacy bill on Friday, but the proposal lacks support from Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). 

Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and the top House Commerce Committee Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) unveiled details of their draft privacy bill, which would require companies to design products with privacy in mind and includes even stricter regulations for dealing with customers under the age of 17. 

Cantwell drafted her own data privacy bill, breaking from her colleagues and posing additional hurdles for a federal data privacy law moving forward.

A key difference between the two versions revolves around the degree to which individuals can pursue legal challenges against companies over data privacy breaches under the new law. 

Cantwell’s version would allow individuals to sue companies in federal court over privacy violations, including ones laid out in the draft bill, according to a copy obtained by The Hill. 

The bill from Wicker, Pallone and McMorris Rodgers would as well, but with more barriers in place. 

Their version would not allow cases to be brought until four years after the law was in place. It would also require individuals to first notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the attorney general in their state of residence of their intent to bring action and gives the agencies 60 days to make a determination. 

Despite differences on enforcement, however, the bills include similar requirements for companies. 

For example, both drafts call for companies to provide individuals with clear ways to opt out of targeted advertising. 

The Wicker-Pallone-McMorris Rodgers bill goes a step further regarding children under 17. It would ban companies from using targeted advertising at all for minors and would ban them from transferring covered data of users ages 13 to 17 to third parties without “express affirmative consent.”

The competing drafts follow years of delays in Washington on federal privacy legislation, with the U.S. lagging behind other global proposals to regulate data privacy.

The draft bills still face a long road ahead, especially without consensus among the committee leaders. 

And the lawmakers are running up against a dwindling deadline. As the midterm elections approach, it’s unclear if either bill would meaningfully advance this year.

Updated at 2:16 p.m.

Tags Cathy McMorris Rodgers Cathy McMorris Rodgers Data privacy Frank Pallone Frank Pallone Maria Cantwell Maria Cantwell Roger Wicker Roger Wicker
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