Congress is Working on New Laws Putting Limits on How Companies Can Sell Your Private Data Online





Woman on laptop looking disappointed

Over the weekend, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a draft of a bill that would put new protections on data privacy online. This bill would force companies to respect people’s private data online and limit how they can sell data they have about you.

“This bipartisan, bicameral draft legislation is the best opportunity we’ve had in decades to establish a national data privacy and security standard that gives people the right to control their personal information,” said Chair Rodgers and Cantwell. “This landmark legislation represents the sum of years of good faith efforts in both the House and Senate. It strikes a meaningful balance on issues that are critical to moving comprehensive data privacy legislation through Congress. Americans deserve the right to control their data and we’re hopeful that our colleagues in the House and Senate will join us in getting this legislation signed into law.”

“This landmark legislation gives Americans the right to control where their information goes and who can sell it. 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,” said Chair Rodgers. “I’m grateful to my colleague, Senator Cantwell, for working with me in a bipartisan manner on this important legislation and look forward to moving the bill through regular order on Energy and Commerce this month.”

For now the bill is a long ways away from becoming reality but its a good step to protecting your online data.

Here is what they say this bill will do: 

Establishes Foundational Uniform National Data Privacy Rights for Americans:

  • Puts people in control of their own personal data.   
  • Eliminates the patchwork of state laws by setting one national privacy standard, stronger than any state.  
  • Minimizes the data that companies can collect, keep, and use about people, of any age, to what companies actually need to provide them products and services.  
  • Gives Americans control over where their personal information goes, including the ability to prevent the transfer or selling of their data. The bill also allows individuals to opt out of data processing if a company changes its privacy policy.  
  • Provides stricter protections for sensitive data by requiring affirmative express consent before sensitive data can be transferred to a third party. 
  • Requires companies to let people access, correct, delete, and export their data. 
  • Allows individuals to opt out of targeted advertising.

Gives Americans the Ability to Enforce Their Data Privacy Rights:

  • Gives individuals the right to sue bad actors who violate their privacy rights—and recover money for damages when they’ve been harmed.  
  • Prevents companies from enforcing mandatory arbitration in cases of substantial privacy harm. 

Protects Americans’ Civil Rights:

  • Stops companies from using people’s personal information to discriminate against them. 
  • Allows individuals to opt out of a company’s use of algorithms to make decisions about housing, employment, healthcare, credit opportunities, education, insurance, or access to places of public accommodation. 
  • Requires annual reviews of algorithms to ensure they do not put individuals, including our youth, at risk of harm, including discrimination. 

Holds Companies Accountable and Establishes Strong Data Security Obligations:

  • Mandates strong data security standards that will prevent data from being hacked or stolen. This limits the chances for identity theft and harm. 
  • Makes executives take responsibility for ensuring that companies take all actions necessary to protect customer data as required by the law. 
  • Ensures individuals know when their data has been transferred to foreign adversaries. 
  • Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission, States, and consumers to enforce against violations.  

Focuses on the Business of Data, Not Mainstreet Business 

  • Small businesses, that are not selling their customers’ personal information, are exempt from the requirements of this bill.

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