Nov 1, 2018

Democrat's draft privacy bill includes prison time for execs

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.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 855,007 — Total deaths: 42,032 — Total recoveries: 176,714.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 186,265 — Total deaths: 3,810 — Total recoveries: 6,910.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful" on Tuesday, with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans. The White House and other institutions are observing several models to help prepare for when COVID-19 is expected to peak in the U.S.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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