Media Recap: Chairs Rodgers and Cantwell Unveil Comprehensive Data Privacy Legislation

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) unveiled the bipartisan, bicameral American Privacy Rights Act. This comprehensive draft legislation sets clear, national data privacy rights and protections for Americans, eliminates the existing patchwork of state comprehensive data privacy laws, and gives Americans the ability to enforce their privacy rights when their rights are violated.

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Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Spokane Republican who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, have appeared at odds on data privacy since introducing competing legislation in recent years. But in interviews on Sunday, the two women said they have a compromise bill that can get to President Joe Biden’s desk before McMorris Rodgers leaves Congress at the end of the year. 

21 1.pngThe bipartisan agreement [...] marks a milestone in the congressional debate over data privacy. The issue has befuddled lawmakers despite near-universal agreement—in Silicon Valley and in Washington—on the need for federal standards to determine how much information companies can collect from consumers online. 

22 1.png“It reins in Big Tech by prohibiting them from tracking, predicting, and manipulating people’s behaviors for profit without their knowledge and consent. Americans overwhelmingly want these rights, and they are looking to us, their elected representatives, to act,” [Chair Roders] said. 

23 1.pngThe draft allows consumers to opt out of data collection or even edit or delete their data. Companies will be required to become more transparent about their data collection practices in order for consumers to decide what to do with their data. Consumers will be able to sue companies if they do not comply. 

Reuters-Logo.pngThe agreement [...] would give individuals control over use of their personal information and require disclosure if data has been transferred to foreign adversaries. 

25 1.pngIn addition, companies would have to ensure that any algorithms used to analyze personal data aren't biased, and companies that buy and sell personal data would have to register with the Federal Trade Commission. 

Consumers would also have greater control over how their data is used under the measure. One provision of the proposal would allow consumers to opt out of targeted ads — i.e., advertisements sent to them based on their personal data. 

24 1.pngThe intrigue: Big tech players are usually the first to come to mind on data privacy issues, but the bill covers telecom companies and nonprofits that handle troves of data, too. 

26 1.png"This is the first time that the two chairs of the committees of jurisdiction have come to an agreement, Chair Rodgers and Chair Cantwell, who are both from different political parties, and that has been elusive in this debate since it started," said one aide.

CLICK HERE to read more about the American Privacy Rights Act.