Senate Democrats Propose Privacy Framework, Call For Do-Not-Track

Consumers would have the right to prevent online tracking under a privacy framework unveiled Monday by Senate Democrats.

The two-page “Privacy and Data Protection Framework” says consumers should have the right to control data, including the rights to "know, access, delete, correct, and restrict the transfer and retention of their records.”

The principles were framework by Democrats across four Senate committees -- Commerce, Judiciary, Banking and HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions).

“Organizations that collect and store our data must be required to provide clear, concise disclosure of and justification for their privacy practices, and supply consumers with meaningful options to access products or services without sacrificing their privacy,” the document states. “We must also have heightened protections and tools in place, like a do-not-track right, to prevent consumers from being targeted online and tracked across websites, and to protect children and teens.”

The lawmakers are also calling for companies to minimize data collection and process data in a transparent manner.

“We must establish strict limits around the use, extrapolation, and retention of certain data, especially data relating to biometrics, race, sexual orientation, children, health, or finances,” the lawmakers write. “Standards must ensure that data is only processed in a transparent manner that meets consumers’ expectations and is free from unlawful manipulation.”

The framework comes as lawmakers are struggling to craft a national privacy law. Several bills have been introduced this year, but none appear to be close to passage. 

Most recently, last month Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) proposed legislation to create a national “do not track” regime that gives consumers the right to prevent information about them from being shared or sold by ad-tech companies.

California and Maine are among the states that recently passed their own privacy measures. California's law, slated to take effect in January, is similar in some ways to the framework proposed by Senate Democrats. The California law will allow consumers to learn what personal information about them is held by businesses, request deletion of that information, and to opt out of its sale or transfer.

Advocacy groups welcomed the Senate Democrats' proposal Monday.

“The Privacy and Data Protection Framework released today sends a clear message that Senate Democratic leadership, including ranking members of the relevant Committees and longtime leaders on privacy issues, are committed to crafting comprehensive federal privacy legislation that provides strong protections for consumers,” Dylan Gilbert, policy counsel at Public Knowledge stated. 

Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, called for the Senate to “move forward this excellent proposal,” adding that the country is now “on track for the adoption of comprehensive privacy legislation.”

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