After months of talks on bipartisan legislation, Senate Commerce Committee leaders have unveiled dueling privacy bills ahead of a hearing this week. But insiders believe the process might still yield a compromise both parties can embrace.
What they're saying: "Now there’s actually opportunity for serious negotiations between the different positions," said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, which did a comparison of the two bills. "These bills have more in common than they have dividing them."
A pair of California Democrats want to create a new federal agency to protect U.S. consumers' privacy as part of an online privacy bill unveiled Tuesday.
The big picture: Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren said their Online Privacy Act would create a "Digital Privacy Agency," give users the right to correct and delete information, and impose new restrictions on companies' use of data. The Silicon Valley representatives are setting a high bar for federal privacy legislation amid bipartisan legislation efforts.
It's more important than ever for companies to have privacy experts, to help them obey proliferating laws on how consumers' data can be used — but it's hard to find people with the expertise to do it.
Why it matters: Privacy is a once-and-future battleground. Without more qualified professionals, everyone’s sensitive information could fall vulnerable to corporate ignorance, mismanagement and whim.
Technology has advanced to the point where research study participants can be identified by their MRI scans even after all other identifying information has been stripped, according to an experiment detailed yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by the New York Times.
Why it matters: If stored medical data were leaked, it could potentially be used to identify study participants for marketing, scams or even stalking.
California, Delaware and Utah are the states that best protect users' online privacy in 2019, according to an annual ranking by privacy and cybersecurity research firm Comparitech.
Why it matters: States are taking the lead on online privacy protections in the U.S. as bipartisan efforts in Congress have yet to produce a federal privacy law.
If you've taken a college entry test in the last few years, your personal information may have been used to decide which colleges can recruit you.
Why it matters: Universities and other educational organizations are buying high schoolers' personal data from SAT administrator College Board to target and recruit future students. More than 3 million students in 2018 gave up their personal information in the process of taking the SAT, ACT and PSAT, the New York Times reports.
California's pending European-style digital privacy law will likely be the most impactful in the country, but it won't be the first. Nevada's law takes effect Tuesday.
Why it matters: With no superseding federal law, we're at the start of, potentially, 50 different privacy laws covering each of the 50 states — all interacting, potentially conflicting, and affecting business and consumer peace of mind for years to come.
With impeachment hogging Congress' agenda, no national privacy law is likely to pre-empt California's stringent rules from going into effect next year — and activists in the state are already gearing up to put an even tougher initiative on the state's 2020 ballot.
Why it matters: California's rules often become de facto national standards. Home to Google and Facebook, this is where the tech industry's user-tracking, ad-targeting economy was born, but now it's also where efforts to tame the industry keep sprouting.
A landmark privacy law in California, which kicks in Jan. 1, will give Golden State residents the right to find out what a company knows about them and get it deleted — and to stop the company from selling it.
Why it matters: It could effectively become a national privacy law, since companies that are racing to comply with it may give these privileges to non-Californians, too.
The web's trade organization, the Internet Association, became the latest industry group to urge Congress to pass a national privacy law.
Why it matters: Industry organizations, individual companies and consumer groups all say they want privacy legislation. They probably vary in what they would like to see in such legislation, but there could well be room for something that all could get behind.