Press Release

Public Knowledge Welcomes Comprehensive Privacy Bill to Protect Consumers

November 5, 2019 , , ,

Today, Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the “Online Privacy Act of 2019” to create comprehensive privacy protections for consumers. The Act outlines individual privacy rights, compels companies to honor those rights through privacy and security requirements for personal data, and forms the United States Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) to protect and enforce such rights. Public Knowledge welcomes the bill, which would offer a thorough roadmap to protecting consumers — and their data — in the digital era.

The following can be attributed to Dylan Gilbert, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The Online Privacy Act of 2019 marks a serious effort to provide comprehensive privacy protection for all Americans. We applaud Representatives Eshoo and Lofgren for offering a roadmap enabling users to assert control of their lives online through a strong, federal baseline of much-needed privacy protections. Everyone deserves better protections online, and this bill charts a path toward achieving them.

“Importantly, the bill provides a federal ‘floor’ of privacy protections and offers individuals the ability to enforce violations of their privacy rights through a private right of action. We’re pleased that the bill requires dominant platforms to allow users to more easily switch to a competitor through data portability, which helps spur competition online while preserving user privacy and security. It also provides important safeguards against companies circumventing the bill’s obligations through private contracts, bans forced arbitration agreements, and prevents companies from charging a fee to those seeking to access or correct their data.

“That said, like any first draft, the Online Privacy Act can still be improved. For example, the bill relies heavily on consumer ‘notice and choice’ but falls short in providing clear guidance to ensure that its rules minimize user burdens and maximize user control. The Act also defines ‘small businesses’ too broadly and exempts them from respecting important privacy rights. Privacy is a basic consumer protection issue, and even a small business mishandling personal information can cause people huge problems. 

“We look forward to working with members of Congress to move the privacy conversation forward to best protect consumers through comprehensive federal legislation.”