The US doesn’t have a single data privacy law that applies to all fifty states. On Wednesday, a group of 15 US senators indicated it wanted to change the status quo, introducing the Data Care Act.
The bill (PDF) would require companies that collect personal data from users to take reasonable steps to safeguard the information. The act also has provisions to prevent them from using the data in ways that could harm consumers.
If the bill becomes law, the US Federal Trade Commission would be in charge of implementing it.
“People have a basic expectation that the personal information they provide to websites and apps is well-protected and won’t be used against them,” Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who is sponsoring the bill, said in a press release.
The bill is a sign that the idea of tech industry has been calling for a federal privacy law since in June. Two other federal privacy bills have been introduced this year.. The
“We commend Senator Schatz for tackling the difficult task of drafting privacy legislation that focuses on routine data processing practices instead of consumer data self-management,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement that was included in Schatz’s press release. “It signals an important shift in how Congress views consumer privacy issues and foreshadows a serious privacy debate in 2019.”
The Internet Association, a group that advocates for tech companies’ interests and includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PayPal and Twitter as members, also expressed support in a statement. “Internet companies act as responsible stewards of people’s data and agree with Sen. Schatz that federal legislation should promote responsible data practices,” the organization said, adding that it will continue to work with lawmakers toward passing a broad data privacy law.
The bill would let states to pursue their own legal actions against companies for privacy violations, but would “allow the FTC to intervene” in those enforcement efforts, according to Schatz’s press release. The bill gives the FTC the power to fine companies for breaking the privacy law, but doesn’t include jail time for CEOs.