California AG Urges Congress To Allow States To Maintain Privacy Laws

Congress should pass a national privacy law that builds on the new measure in California but doesn't override it, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says.

“I encourage Congress to favor legislation that sets a federal privacy-protection floor rather than a ceiling, allowing my state -- and others that may follow -- the opportunity to provide further protections tailored to our residents,” Becerra says in a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday.

California's law, which was passed in 2018 and went into effect last month, empowers consumers to learn what information has been collected about them by companies, have that information deleted, and prevent the sale of that data to third parties.

After California passed the measure, the ad industry and other business groups began lobbying Congress for national legislation that would override state privacy laws.

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The business groups have argued that complying with different data laws in different states will prove unworkable.

Becerra also argues that any national privacy bill should allow consumers to sue over violations. California's bill only authorizes private lawsuits over data breaches caused by a company's failure to implement reasonable security.

Numerous federal lawmakers have proposed privacy legislation in the last year.

One bill, introduced by four Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, would require companies to obtain consumers' opt-in consent before using their web-browsing data for ad targeting. That measure would not override stronger state laws, and would allow consumers to sue over violations.

But a narrower bill unveiled by Republican Senator Roger Wicker (Mississippi) would override state measures.

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