Lawmakers Advance Sweeping Nationwide Privacy Bill

Lawmakers on a House subcommittee on Thursday advanced a draft privacy bill that would impose sweeping nationwide restrictions on companies' ability to collect and use data.

The American Privacy Rights Act -- introduced in both chambers last month by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), and revised earlier this week -- now moves to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which could make additional changes.

The current version of the bill appears to require businesses to allow consumers to opt out of online behavioral advertising -- meaning ads served based on cross-site and cross-app data. The original version had language that would have either required companies to obtain opt-in consent for behavioral advertising, or banned online behavioral advertising altogether.

The current draft bill also would require data brokers to let consumers opt out of data collection, and request deletion of their data. The measure additionally would allow consumers to sue over violations.



Rodgers, who chairs the Energy and Commerce committee, described the proposed bill as “an opportunity for a reset.”

“Big Tech is capturing more and more data to surveil and control over our lives,” she said. “Americans should be in control of how that information is disclosed, and it should be voluntary, not coerced,” she added.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-New Jersey), said Thursday that a national privacy bill was “long overdue,” but also indicated that the measure was still a work in progress.

“I know we can continue to work to further strengthen the bill,” he said.

He also appeared to suggest that provisions regarding online ad targeting could again be revised.

“We need to work with stakeholders to make sure the definitions of targeted advertising and other types of advertising are right, and we are preventing abusive use and sharing of consumers' data for advertising purposes.”

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