Press Release

Public Knowledge Welcomes Cortez Masto’s Bill as Positive Next Step in Privacy Debate

March 1, 2019 , , , ,

Yesterday, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the “Digital Accountability and Transparency to Advance Privacy Act” (DATA Privacy) to encourage businesses like Facebook and Amazon to explain privacy policies in clear language while meeting requirements for data collection, processing, and storage. The bill also enables consumers to request their data be given to them, corrected, or deleted, and requires businesses to provide consumers with a means to “opt-out” of their data being used at all. Finally, the bill prohibits data practices from discriminating against protected characteristics.

Public Knowledge welcomes Sen. Cortez Masto’s efforts to strengthen consumer privacy protections but encourages her to create a more comprehensive privacy bill including by eliminating the sensitive/non-sensitive data distinction, requiring privacy risk assessments for high-risk data processing, and giving consumers a private right of action.

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

“There is much to like in Sen. Cortez Masto’s DATA Privacy Act, including requirements for plain-language privacy notices, data minimization mandates, and grants of authority to the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General to bring civil penalties against first-time privacy offenders. Importantly, this bill also moves beyond the notice and consent focus of many past privacy bills to include outright bans on data practices likely to result in unfair discrimination against a broad range of protected characteristics such as race and gender.

“Unfortunately, the bill lacks elements that are necessary to any comprehensive federal privacy bill. For example, it preserves an outdated distinction between sensitive and non-sensitive data, lacks requirements for companies to conduct privacy risk assessments for high-risk data processing, and, crucially, does not provide consumers with a private right of action to have their day in court individually and as a class to seek damages and injunctive relief for violations of their privacy. We look forward to working with Sen. Cortez Masto to protect consumer privacy through a more comprehensive bill.”

View our latest blog post, “Consumer Privacy Before Congress This Week: What We Learned and What’s Next,” for more information on the national privacy debate.