Data Privacy Acts Introduced in Congress

The Online Privacy Act that would establish individual privacy rights was recently introduced in the House of Representatives.  The Filter Bubble Transparency Act was also recently introduced in the Senate.  

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the Online Privacy Act.  The bill, would not only establish individual rights related to the privacy of personal information, it would establish data privacy and security requirements, and establish a separate U.S. Digital Privacy Agency to enforce these rights.

Importantly, the Online Privacy Act would not preempt state privacy laws and includes the rights of access to user data, correction and deletion.  Those covered by the California Consumer Privacy Act have long lobbied for a federal privacy bill that would preempt the patchwork of state data privacy legislation, including the CCPA.  Contact an FTC defense attorney to discuss CCPA related compliance obligations and restrictions.  

Lawsuits would be able to be initiated by the newly created agency and state attorneys general.  Non-profit organizations active in protecting individual rights with regard to personal data may be able to take the place of an aggrieved individual, and may also seek monetary damages. The bill would also allow individuals to seek injunctive relief.

As revised, the bill would exempts users with fewer than 250,000 users.  Covered entities would be required to obtain affirmative opt-in consent when collecting personal information for the purpose of behavioral marketing.  Entities that experience a breach would have to notify consumers within 14 days if foreseeable privacy harm exists.

The Filter Bubble Transparency Act would require large-scale internet platforms that collect data from more than 1 million users and gross more than $50 million per year to provide greater transparency to consumers and allow users to view content that has not been curated as a result of a secret algorithm.  It would make it easier for internet platform users to understand the potential manipulation that exists with secret algorithms and require large-scale platforms to allow those users to consume information outside of that potential manipulation zone or “filter bubble.”  

“This legislation is about transparency and consumer control,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).  “For free markets to work as effectively and as efficiently as possible, consumers need as much information as possible, including a better understanding of how internet platforms use artificial intelligence and opaque algorithms to make inferences from the reams of personal data at their fingertips that can be used to affect behavior and influence outcomes.  That’s why I believe consumers should have the option to either view a platform’s opaque algorithm-generated content or its filter bubble-free content, and, at the very least, they deserve to know how large-scale internet platforms are delivering information to their users.”  

This Filter Bubble Act would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to seek civil penalties for violations. 

Contact the author at rnewman@hinchnewman.com if you are interested in learning more about data privacy compliance requirements and enforcement trends.  Follow FTC defense attorney on Twitter @ FTC defense attorney.

Richard B. Newman is an FTC CID lawyer at Hinch Newman LLP

Informational purposes only. Not legal advice. May be considered attorney advertising.

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