Advocates Press For Role Crafting Privacy Laws

As lawmakers gear up to craft online privacy laws, consumer advocates are pressing to participate in the drafting process.

“We can no longer let industry groups and ineffective agencies decide how much privacy Americans may have,” the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action and eight other organizations say in a letter sent Friday to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). “We need you to pursue an open and inclusive process that ensures that meetings are held in public, that a record is established, and that the voices of consumers are heard.”

The letter comes one day after Blackburn and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) convened the inaugural meeting of a task force on privacy, data security, censorship, antitrust and competition in the tech industry.

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Representatives from Snap, Match, and Mozilla were present for that meeting.

EPIC and the other watchdogs argue that lawmakers should include consumer advocates as well as tech companies in the talks.

“For too long, tech companies have determined the privacy policies in the United States,” the letter states. “The consequence has been spiraling levels of data breach and identity theft.”

The groups are advocating for legislation that would impose limits on the collection, use and disclosure of data.

“Companies should be held accountable when they choose to collect personal data,” they write. “Innovation will emerge as companies develop new business practices that are less dependent on the gathering of our data.”

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