Sen. Gillibrand Drafts Data Privacy Legislation

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has drafted a bill that would create a U.S. Federal data strategy agency that would protect citizens’ data and have the authority to enforce data practices across the U.S.

The bill, called the Data Protection Act, would put people “in control” of their own data and address the “growing data privacy crisis.”

“[Tech] companies have built major empires of data with information about our private lives,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a medium post. “They’re processing that information with increasingly complex and sophisticated algorithms. And they’re making a whole lot of money off of it.”

The New York Senator laid out three core missions for the proposed agency:

  • “Give Americans control and protection over their own data by enforcing data protection rules” through tools such as civil penalties, injunction relief, and equitable remedies;
  • “Work to maintain the most innovative, successful tech sector in the world and ensure fair competition within the digital marketplace;” and
  • Prepare the Federal government for the digital age by advising Congress and representing the U.S. at international forums regarding data privacy.

Federal data privacy legislation has been a topic of discussion on the Hill over the past few years, including the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act introduced by Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., in 2019 and calls for Federal legislation echoed by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Senior solutions architect at comforte AG Warren Poschman has said that even though the Data Protection Act has a lot of hurdles to cross, it is a “powerful step in the right direction.”

“In today’s data-driven economy, there is perhaps no greater reason for action at the Federal level than data privacy,” Poschman said. “Although the bill as it stands today would seemingly apply only to medium and large businesses (either $25M+ in revenue or 50,000+ records), the key takeaway is that the U.S. Federal government cannot continue to hide behind the 10th Amendment by leaving data security and privacy to state and local governments.”

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