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Sen. Ron Wyden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden released a draft bill Thursday creating a system for consumers to opt out of some data sharing and giving the Federal Trade Commission more authority to punish privacy violations, including by sending corporate executives to prison.

Why it matters: The early proposal is one of many unveiled on the issue in Congress, but it sets a marker for lawmakers who want to give the FTC greater powers over large tech companies.

Details: The law would apply to companies with more than $50 million in revenue and personal information on a million or more consumers.

  • The bill would create a national “ ‘Do Not Track’ data sharing opt-out website” that would let users say no to “data sharing, view their opt-out status, and change their opt-out status.” Sites are allowed to charge for a version of their product that does not rely on user data to generate revenue.
  • That Do Not Track system might not cover certain types of targeted advertising on Facebook or Google, where no personal data is exchanged on an individual, but would cover ad buys where data was submitted to those platforms.
  • If passed, the law would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to fine companies for a first offense, something it cannot currently do, and give the agency more staffers.
  • Companies covered under the law would have to submit an annual data protection report signed by top executives, including their CEOs. Executives could face criminal penalties as high as 20 years in prison if they intentionally mislead the agency.
  • The law also includes an exemption for the editorial side of news organizations.

What they’re not saying: The bill doesn’t say that the federal government should preempt state rules or address the ability of citizens to sue in certain privacy cases.

What’s next? The midterms. If voters flip the House or, less likely, the Senate on Tuesday, it could supercharge the debate over privacy. Lawmakers are trying to get federal legislation in place before California’s new rules go into effect in 2020.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.