data breach
data breach

As of right now, the United States doesn’t have a data privacy law that applies to all 50 states.  But that might change.  A group of 15 US senators have indicated that they want to change the status quo and are introducing the Data Care Act.  The new bill would require companies that collect personal data from users to take reasonable steps to safeguard that information.  The act also has provisions that would prevent them from using the data in any way that could harm consumers.

Is this something that you think will work?  Or should the government stay out of tech all together?  If the bill does become law, the US Federal Trade Commission would be in charge of implementing it.  Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who is sponsoring the bill had this to say in a press release:

“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.”

This bill shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and if it is, I’m sorry to say that you’ve been living under a rock.  The technology industry has been calling for federal privacy laws since California passed their data privacy law back in June. And if I’m being honest, I’m surprised that it has taken so long.  But maybe the fact that we’ve seen issues with Facebook over and over again are making this bubble up?  Or is it the fact that we’ve had two major data breaches over the last 12 months?  Regardless, in my opinion, this is a good move.

And when I say a good move, I simply mean the protection of a users privacy is a good move in my opinion.  In November, Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, introduced a bill that would give CEO’s jail time for lying in mandatory annual reports to the FTC.  But that might be a bit too much.  Not that I am suggesting that lying is a good move, but because I feel like the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

But this latest bill comes one day after Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the House Judiciary Committee that his company would like to see several privacy regulations.  Many groups are embracing the Data Care Act in a way that suggests they are completely on board with this.  Which makes you wonder if tech giants want more transparency?  One of the groups who is embracing the act is the Center for Democracy and Technology, which has advisory board members from companies that include Facebook, Apple, Verizon, Google, Twitter, Mozilla and Microsoft.

Essentially, the bill would allow states to pursue their own legal actions against companies when there are privacy violations. It would also allow the FTC to intervene in those enforcement efforts, and give them the power to fine companies for breaking the privacy law.  Schatz’s bill doesn’t include jail time for CEOs, which I do think is a bit much in the grand scheme of things.  I can see this bill getting approved, but what is unclear at this time is how it will play out in the real world.