US Senate examines the need for Federal Data Privacy Legislation
In a hearing yesterday, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation heard testimonies by privacy experts who voiced their support for a federal level privacy law. The Committee Chair, Roger Wicker (Republican) last week introduced a new bill, the Safe Data Act. A similar attempt for a federal law has also been put forward by Senator Maria Cantwell (Democrat).
Giving testimony at the hearing, Julie Brill, Former Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Global Privacy and Regulatory Affairs at Microsoft, said that the time is now critical to enact federal legislation, not least because of Covid-related inequalities.
“The Bills include more similarities than differences,” she said, calling for bipartisan leadership.
William Kovacic, Former Chairman and Commissioner, FTC, said that a national privacy bill would be an appropriate step and there are two routes to take in order to guarantee effective implementation;
- Create a new Data Protection Authority
- Enhance the powers of the FTC.
There was a discussion about the role of the current state level privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) under any new federal law. Jon Leibowitz, Former Chairman and Commissioner, FTC, thought this would not create an issue as both proposed Bills are stronger than the CCPA.
Other witnesses included Maureen Ohlhausen, Former Commissioner and Acting Chairman, FTC, and Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, State of California.