A few years ago, ALLvanza called on Congress to act responsibly and in a bipartisan way to pass permanent, comprehensive, federal legislation to protect consumer privacy online. This month, a bipartisan draft bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, was released, a sign that Congress recognizes the importance of a national approach to regulating the ways that companies gather and use consumers’ personal data.
The need for a federal privacy solution has been made clear by data breaches and by continuing advances in technology that make it easier for both the private and public sectors to collect, store, analyze, and exploit data about individuals’ activities online. Legislation that makes it possible for individuals to confidently take advantage of all that the digital era has to offer—from education and telemedicine to shopping and entertainment—will allow our society to maximize the potential benefits of technological innovation and change.
A legislative solution must give consumers meaningful control over the ways their personal data is used, and must establish a clear obligation to keep consumers data secure. In addition, ALLvanza has called for a new privacy law to be informed by the principles of uniformity, parity, and security:
First, we firmly believe that any law governing privacy and data protections should be applied fairly and evenly to all players in the internet ecosystem. Whether a consumer is dealing with a search engine, social media, website, a data broker or an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the same privacy and data protections should apply. This helps to minimize consumer confusion, maximize consumer confidence, and it creates a level-playing field for online companies.
Second, a new privacy law should be enacted at the federal level, not the states. Consumers should not have to guess which privacy law and protections apply depending upon which state they happen to live, visit or work or where the company is based. A federal privacy law would bring much needed uniformity and consistency to the protection of consumer data online.
Third, a federal privacy law should place enforcement authority (and adequate resources) in a single federal agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Concentrating enforcement authority into a single federal agency will allow for consistency in application of the privacy law, which will benefit consumers.
Finally, companies should have an obligation to keep consumer’s personal data secure. While laws need not dictate the precise technical methods to be employed, companies entrusted with personal data should be required to maintain a baseline level of security to ensure that personal information is adequately protected and data breaches are avoided.
ALLvanza welcomes progress toward a solution that will protect all internet users. We will continue to work with our partners to evaluate the American Data Privacy and Protection Act as it moves forward and suggest changes, when needed, to ensure that members of underserved communities are sufficiently included and protected.