Senator Blumenthal Still Aiming For Bipartisan Privacy Bill

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday expressed optimism that he and Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas will be able to move forward with efforts to craft a bipartisan privacy bill.

“We have come very close, and I am very hopeful that we'll continue to make progress, because this issue of privacy is one of the central ones of our time,” Blumenthal (Connecticut) said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee about tech companies, competition and privacy.

Blumenthal and Moran have been working on a joint privacy bill since 2018, but have reportedly been unable to agree on key provisions -- including whether consumers should be able to bring private lawsuits over violations. 

At Tuesday's hearing, Blumenthal and other lawmakers devoted significant time to blasting Facebook over a recent Wall Street Journal report about Instagram. That report said Facebook's internal research showed Instagram is harmful for a “sizable percentage” of young users -- especially teen girls.

Blumenthal said Tuesday that the Journal article showed the “heinously destructive” impact of Instagram on teens, while Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) asked Facebook vice president Steve Satterfield, who testified before the panel, to commit to halt plans for a children's version of Instagram.

Satterfield instead suggested that the company plans to move forward with a version of Instagram for children under 13.

“We know that tweens are online and we want them to have an experience that is a good one, and is a healthy one,” he said.

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