Public Knowledge Opposes Antiquated Privacy Bill Barring States from Protecting Consumers

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Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act,” which would require the Federal Trade Commission to recommend privacy regulations in line with the 1974 Privacy Act to Congress and also prevent states from passing their own privacy laws. Additionally, the bill would preempt those state protections already in place, effectively walking back the few privacy safeguards consumers have.

According to Sen. Rubio’s bill, the FTC’s recommendations to Congress must be “substantially similar” to agency requirements under the Privacy Act of 1974. If Congress does not pass a law based on these limited requirements within a certain timeframe, the FTC would declare rules based on its own recommendations. Public Knowledge contends that Sen. Rubio’s bill is a step backwards, and that any protections it might inadvertently create would take years to go into effect.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“Sen. Rubio’s severely limited bill is better suited to Americans living in 1974 than today. In the post-Equifax era, Americans face a constant stream of data breaches and scandals that clearly demonstrate a need for real protections, not mere lip service.This bill does not adequately protect Americans’ data or give consumers the control they want and need to protect themselves online. We cannot support this bill.

“The 1974 Privacy Act is fundamentally a transparency and data accuracy law, designed well before the popularization of the internet and cloud computing. Adapting the 1974 Privacy Act to the private sector would do nothing for Americans fighting to control their personal information in the modern world. In 2019, Sen. Rubio’s proposal is ‘too little, 45 years too late,’ and at a disproportionately high cost: preempting meaningful state innovation in privacy protection.

“Additionally, in a best-case scenario, it would be years before this bill resulted in any remotely meaningful protection, leaving consumers vulnerable. And finally, it’s absurd that the bill would preempt state law and constrain the jurisdiction of specialized agencies like the FCC in exchange for very limited protections for consumers. Congress should legislate to solve today’s problems -- not cut the privacy debate short with a bill that represents an antiquated approach to consumer privacy.”

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