Chamber of Commerce calls for Congress to block state privacy laws

Chamber of Commerce calls for Congress to block state privacy laws
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling on Congress to come up with a federal privacy standard in order to preempt states from passing their own laws governing data collection.

The business group released a set of privacy principles on Thursday to guide lawmakers in an effort to avoid a patchwork of state laws.

“Advances in technology have empowered businesses and consumers alike, and policies to address these changes should reflect both the significant impact of the tech ecosystem on the economy and the importance of the responsible use of consumer data,” Tim Day, the vice president of the Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center, said in a statement.

“The principles released today are at the intersection of these priorities, and are an effort to ensure businesses and consumers can make the most of the modern economy knowing regulatory certainty and privacy protections are a priority.”

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The principles come in the wake of California’s decision earlier this summer to pass the toughest privacy laws in the country, a move that has business interests scrambling to water them down before they go into effect in 2020.

That law followed a massive outcry over Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of users’ data landed in the hands of a political consulting group without their knowledge.

The proposals are unsurprisingly lenient. In addition to heading off any tough privacy initiatives at the state level, the principles call for regulators to only take enforcement actions against companies when privacy violations result in “concrete harm to individuals” — a legal standard that may be hard to meet in the event of a data breach or the mishandling of users’ personal information.

The Trump administration and Congress have been exploring the possibility of pushing a new privacy law, apparently in part to head off initiatives like California’s.