New Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Put Americans in ‘Control of Their Own Data’

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is supporting new legislation that seeks to establish a unified national standard for data privacy. This measure aims to give Americans greater control over the usage of their private information.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the American Privacy Rights Act on April 7, as per a statement released on the same day. The act aims to institute “uniform national data privacy rights,” surpassing the standards set by individual state laws, the statement noted.

The proposal 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.”

The legislation restricts the amount of personal data that businesses can gather, store, and utilize. Companies will be permitted to collect only the data necessary to deliver products and services. Moreover, firms dealing with sensitive information must obtain “express consent” from customers before sharing such data with third parties.

As per the proposal, businesses must enable people to access, correct, delete, and export their data. Moreover, individuals have the option to opt out of targeted advertising.

The act “gives individuals the right to sue bad actors who violate their privacy rights—and recover money for damages when they’ve been harmed.” It prohibits companies from enforcing mandatory arbitration against customers in case the individuals suffered “substantial privacy harm.”

“This landmark legislation gives Americans the right to control where their information goes and who can sell it,” Ms. Rodgers said.

“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,” she added.

The legislation prohibits companies from using people’s private information to discriminate against them. People have the right to decline companies’ utilization of algorithms to make decisions regarding employment, credit opportunities, housing, insurance, and education. Additionally, companies are required to perform yearly reviews of their algorithms to ensure that individuals are not subjected to discrimination.

Businesses are obligated to implement “strong data security standards” so that there is a limited chance of identity theft or harm. Company executives are responsible for making sure their business takes all the necessary actions to protect customer data.

“A federal data privacy law must do two things: It must make privacy a consumer right, and it must give consumers the ability to enforce that right,” Ms. Cantwell said.

“Working in partnership with Rep. McMorris Rodgers, our bill does just that. This bipartisan agreement is the protections Americans deserve in the Information Age,” she added.

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The new bill arrives amid a wave of data security breaches and privacy lawsuits targeting numerous major corporations in recent months.

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By Hunter Fielding
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