Top House Republican wants internet users to own their data

Top House Republican wants internet users to own their data
© Greg Nash

A top House Republican wants internet users to own data that they generate online to give them more control over what information is collected about them by internet companies.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsJan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Lobbying world Sunday shows preview: Biden administration confronts inflation spike MORE (R-Ga.), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, released a set of internet privacy principles on Wednesday he said will guide legislation that he plans to release in the coming months.

“The private sector and the government must recognize consumer data as the property of the consumer,” Collins said in a statement. “When consumers generate data, they should have a powerful voice in who gets to use it, how much of it is used and under what conditions. Since it’s their property, consumers should also determine how much privacy they want surrounding their data.”

Collins is inserting himself in the privacy debate at a time when both the House and Senate are exploring potential legislation to establish the nation’s first comprehensive consumer privacy law amid heightened concern over the lucrative trafficking of user data.

But Collins’s principles don’t address the particular issues over which Democrats and Republicans have struggled to find common ground. Those include whether states should have a right to regulate privacy or if consumers can sue companies over abuses of their personal information.

Democrats have pushed to leave states’ authority intact and for beefing up the federal government’s ability to police for privacy abuses.

Collins said that his principle of granting ownership to users over their own data will allow them to have more control over how it’s used without imposing heavy regulations.

“My goal is to establish robust privacy rights and protections that are much more flexible and adaptive to the rapidly evolving online ecosystem than new governmental regulatory and enforcement regimes could ever be,” the Georgia Republican said. “The American people don’t need new government bureaucracies and agency-imposed regulatory schemes to control their online lives.”