Jun 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers reignite battle for federal privacy law

Illustration of a hand in a suit pulling a shade down on a computer screen
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Committee leaders in both the House and Senate are poised to introduce an online privacy bill, with key lawmakers releasing a bipartisan draft Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has lagged behind the E.U. and China in establishing national privacy rules for online platforms, but this bipartisan effort shows signs of life even as the looming midterms mark the unofficial end of legislating.

Driving the news: House Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Friday unveiled a discussion draft of their American Data Privacy and Protection Act.

How it works: The bill would require companies to minimize the data they collect, ban targeted advertising to children under 17 years old and allow people to sue companies for violations under certain circumstances.

  • It also would require companies to allow consumers to opt out of targeted advertising, and task the Federal Trade Commission with studying the feasibility of creating a way for consumers to opt out of such advertising across websites.
  • The FTC also would have to create a public registry of data brokers and allow consumers to opt out of collection of their data through a "Do Not Collect" feature.
  • The bill addresses the controversial issue of preemption by indicating some state law provisions would be preempted but other laws, such as the Illinois biometric law, would be preserved.

The intrigue: The so-called four corners discussion between Pallone, Rogers, Wicker and Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) broke down over concerns Cantwell had about enforcement and preemption, according to an aide.

  • Cantwell is circulating her own draft privacy bill, and has indicated she wants to markup a privacy bill this month.

Flashback: Similar bipartisan privacy discussions between Cantwell and Wicker also broke down into dueling privacy bills at the end of 2019.

Go deeper