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After the midterm elections, the odds improve a little for a US data privacy law

US Capitol

The push for a federal privacy invoice simply bought a small enhance. 


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Democratic control of the House of Representatives means there’s a higher probability Congress might go a data privacy law. But do not anticipate any progress on the concern to be quick. 

On Tuesday, voters gave the Democrats management of the decrease home of Congress in the hotly contested midterm elections. The outcomes imply the occasion will take cost of vital committees that oversee know-how points, similar to the Energy and Commerce committee. Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, is aiming to chair that committee.

Committee leaders usually set the agenda for hearings, selecting what matters ought to be thought-about vital. That’s how tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg find yourself testifying to Congress. In a statement on Wednesday, Pallone listed privacy and data safety safety as priorities. That means you may anticipate extra hearings involving tech leaders about the matters.  

Pallone is not the solely member of Congress set to push ahead laws regulating data privacy. On Nov. 1, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, printed a draft of proposed data privacy legislation. The draft prompt penalties of as much as 20 years in jail for tech executives who mishandle data.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington, launched her personal privacy laws in September. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, introduced a privacy bill in 2017, when she was nonetheless a member of the House. 


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The calls for a US data privacy invoice have slowly gotten louder. Scandals, similar to Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook data, have amplified the calls. So have adjustments in different elements of the world, notably the European Union, the place the complete General Data Protection Regulation got here into impact in May.  

Silicon Valley, which is usually immune to laws, has leaned into the call for privacy laws. Apple CEO Tim Cook called for a US data privacy law in an October speech, whereas Google launched a data privacy framework that known as for higher transparency and management over client data.

The acceptance of the tech business is actually useful. But lawmakers nonetheless face challenges.

“You’ve seen some really important CEOs come forward and say they back federal privacy legislation, and you haven’t seen that in a generation,” mentioned Jay Cline, PricewaterwaterhouseCoopers’ Privacy Leader. Still, Cline mentioned that if he have been attempting to forecast the likelihood of a US federal privacy law, “we’ve tripled that index from 1 to 3 in the last 90 days, but that’s on a 30 point scale.”

The obstacles

Even earlier than Election Day, any potential invoice confronted challenges. Privacy advocates warned that tech companies had solely supported efforts to handle the concern in an effort to affect any laws.

Before any invoice can get to a vote, lawmakers must agree on what they need for a data privacy invoice. Proposed payments have confronted criticism for being too strict on tech corporations, whereas others have been slammed for being too tender.

Last yr, the ACLU criticized Blackburn’s proposed laws, declaring that it will pre-empt state data privacy legal guidelines, primarily dismantling efforts at the native stage.

Some of these state legal guidelines, similar to California’s Consumer Privacy Act and Vermont’s Security Breach Notice Act, handed shortly. But the state of affairs has been a lot totally different at the federal stage.

“Congress hasn’t even agreed on a federal data breach notification bill,” Cline mentioned.

Even if the House can go proposed laws, the invoice would additionally need to go by way of the Senate and the White House. Expect the particulars of any proposed data privacy laws to be extremely contested between a Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.

During a press convention on Wednesday, President Donald Trump mentioned he would work with Democrats to control social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, although he was referring to accusations that conservative voices are being censored.

Abigail Slater, Trump’s tech adviser, mentioned the Trump administration hasn’t mentioned privacy laws with the House Commerce committee. She made the remarks throughout The Washington Post’s Technology 202 event on Thursday.

“We’ve already indicated this willingness within the White House to work with Congress on privacy legislation,” Slater mentioned at the occasion. 

Slater joined the Trump administration after serving as common counsel for the Internet Association, a commerce group representing tech giants like Google and Facebook. The Internet Association has proposed a framework for a privacy bill that features a federal law that supersedes these at the state stage.

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