Sen. Rubio Unveils Privacy Proposal

Sen, Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced a new privacy bill Wednesday that would task the Federal Trade Commission with crafting recommendations governing digital data.

The proposed American Data Dissemination Act would override many state privacy laws, including a new California measure, slated to take effect next year. The California bill allows consumers to learn what data is held about them, and to opt out of the sale of that data.

“Use of your personal data is governed by antiquated laws that do not work in the modern economy,” Rubio said today in an op-ed published in The Hill. “The time has come for Congress to address consumer data privacy in a candid, responsible and modern manner.”



Rubio's proposal also involves exempting small start-ups from new privacy rules. Specifically, his proposed law tasks the FTC with devising standards to determine which companies need not follow any new regulations.

“Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google (FAANG) and others would welcome cumbersome regulations that prevent start-ups and smaller competitors from challenging the FAANG’s current dominance,” Rubio wrote. “While we may have disagreements on the best path forward, no one believes a privacy law that only bolsters the largest companies with the resources to comply and stifles our start-up marketplace is the right approach.”

Rubio's bill would give the FTC six months to submit recommendations for privacy requirements to Congress. Congress would then be required to act on those recommendations; if lawmakers fail to do so within two years, the FTC would then promulgate final rules.

His proposal comes as tech companies and the ad industry are urging lawmakers to pass a federal privacy bill that overrides state laws.

Rubio isn't the only lawmaker floating new laws.

Last year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) unveiled a draft of a bill creating a national “do not track” regime that would give consumers the right to prevent information about them from being shared or sold by ad-tech companies.

Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, is also expected to unveil a proposal this year.

But it's not clear that Democrats will agree to legislation that preempts the relatively strong law in California. Last year, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said at a hearing that a proposed law won't garner the 60 Senate votes it needs to close debate, unless the law is "progressive."

“We’re not going to get 60 votes for anything and replace a progressive California law, however flawed you may think it is, with a nonprogressive federal law,” he said.

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