Senators reintroduce the Personal Data Online Protection Bill

Senators aren’t giving up on your online data protection bill. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and 18 other senators reintroduced the Data Care Act of 2018 to set higher standards for sensitive information. Companies will need “reasonable security” of identifying data, including prompt customer notifications of breaches. They also cannot use this data in malicious ways, and must ensure that third parties treat any shared data with equal respect.

This action gives the FTC the power to fine companies that violate the rules, including third parties. States can take civil suits of their own, but the FTC can get involved.

The senators are largely made up of Democrats, including big tech critics like Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King also support the potential legislation. The original Data Care Act had the support of 15 Democrats.

There is no guarantee that the revived law will succeed. The original bill has yet to be voted on after it was introduced in December 2018. While Democrats control the Senate in 2023, Republicans lead the House. If the vote on an equivalent bill is split along party lines in the House, it will not reach the president’s desk for approval.

However, the circumstances may be more favorable this time. President Biden has been eager to rein in big tech companies, with a particular focus on limiting data collection and use. Meanwhile, both major parties in Congress are increasingly concerned about data privacy and security. The Data Care Act theoretically appease these politicians, if only by shifting more responsibility onto the companies.

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