House Members Renew Calls for Privacy Bill After Pandemic Pause

The leaders of the House subcommittee responsible for drafting Federal privacy legislation agreed on Thursday about the need to resume working together in order to pass a national standard, while the panel’s top Republican called for clarity on liability protections.

“Although the pandemic broke the rhythm of our talks,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., “it has made the need for a strong national privacy standard more urgent.”

“Data privacy is the most fundamental consumer protection we could advance, and we should right now be working together,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers in her opening statement during a July 9 House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on consumer protection during the pandemic.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., agreed with Rep. McMorris Rodgers, the subcommittee’s ranking member. “Absolutely we need to work together,” she said. “It is definitely my intention to continue to meet with you to talk about the short-term privacy issues during the pandemic privacy issues and the longer term. I thank you for raising that.”

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The chairman of the full committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., did not address privacy legislation during his opening statement. He tweeted in January that the committee planned on “moving Federal privacy legislation this year,” but did not have a comment on the status of Federal legislation when California began enforcing their privacy law earlier this month.

 

“No one else is better positioned to do this,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers, alluding to the subcommittee’s bipartisan draft released late last year, calling it “the only bipartisan staff draft on either side of the Hill.”

Rep. McMorris Rodgers addressed the need for certainty for liability protections. “We must address the liability uncertainty hanging over the head of every small business owner out there,” she said.

“If we don’t act now and work together, I fear a few more years will slip away before we see real action,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “It has never been more important that we set a national standard.”

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