Georgia Lawmakers Advance Privacy Bill That Exempts Pseudonymous Data

Georgia lawmakers advanced a privacy bill that would allow residents to wield some control over their data, but doesn't give people the right to opt out of a common form of online behavioral advertising.

The Georgia Consumer Privacy Protection Act (S.B. 473), which the state Senate approved 37-15 on February 27, would give residents the right to learn whether their personal information has been processed, and to have that information deleted.

The measure also includes a provision requiring businesses to allow people to opt out of the use of their data for targeted advertising -- meaning ads served based on data about people's online activity collected over time and across nonaffiliated websites or apps. But that provision doesn't apply to pseudonymous data -- such as information linked to cookies.

Watchdogs including ACLU, Free Press and Consumer Reports oppose the bill in its current form.



“The bill needs to be substantially improved before it is enacted; otherwise, it would risk locking in industry-friendly provisions that avoid actual reform,” Maggie Oates, a policy analyst with advocacy group Consumer Reports, writes in a letter sent to Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday.

Oates adds that the exemption for pseudonymous data “represents a major loophole that could exempt the majority of the online advertising ecosystem from the most substantive aspects of this bill’s coverage.”

“Online platforms and advertisers use pseudonymous identifiers (often cookies) to track users across websites, collecting extremely granular data about a user’s search history, usage, personal characteristics, and interests in order to serve them targeted advertisements or to create a profile they can sell to other interested third-parties,” Oates added. “Though this is precisely the type of online tracking this bill ostensibly seeks to grant consumers more control over, this exemption would allow vast swaths of it to continue unabated.”

The bill is currently in the Georgia House of Representatives.

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