May 30, 2019

Is Congress running out of time for GDPR-type federal privacy law?

[ By Titus Manickam Rock ]


There are strong indications that Congress is running out of time on the need for a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-type federal privacy law in the US. The consensus on the need has been widespread even among tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

This is not a major issue for tech giants where users are the product as well. Nonetheless, it is better for companies to know ahead of time what it can and cannot do rather than make business decisions based on practices which may be later outlawed.

Europe was the first continent to implement the gold-standard GDPR privacy law. Apple was among the first companies to pledge similar protections to its customers not just in the European Union but across the globe. However, Apple went on to argue that it was not enough to rely on companies to voluntarily make the right moves and the United States ought to have its own version of GDPR.

There is a general support for federal privacy legislation. However, a recent Axios report indicates little progress on the issue till date. All that has been done to produce a national privacy law is cobble together a six-members’ Senate Commerce Committee, traditionally a leader on internet issues. The deadline for a proposal from this committee was Memorial Day. This date has come and gone. All that the committee has done is add to itself a few more influential members.

Letters were sent earlier this year by the Senate Judiciary Committee to companies asking about their data collection practices but there is no indication if it has served to move forward with a specific bill.

Democrats had indicated prioritizing privacy legislation when they retook the House last year. However, major House committees haven’t moved forward with a bill, either.

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