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On April 7, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a proposed national privacy standard. Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers chair the committees with jurisdiction over the proposal and so, although its enactment is a long shot this year, it is a proposal that privacy rights interests are taking very seriously.

Generally, the proposal would codify national consumer data privacy rights and set standards for data security. Per the summary prepared by the Cantwell-McMorris Rodgers teams, the proposal would also require entities that collect consumer data “to be transparent about how they use the data they collect. Consumers would get the right to access, correct, delete and export their data, and to opt out of targeted advertising and data transfers.”

Further, the summary continues, “The measure would set standards for data minimization that would allow companies to collect and use data only for necessary and limited purposes and prohibit the transfer of sensitive covered data to third parties without the consumer’s affirmative express consent. The Act would prohibit the use of covered data to discriminate against consumers and provide consumers with the right to opt out of the use of algorithms for consequential decisions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), State attorneys general, and consumers could enforce against violations of the Act.”

The American Privacy Rights Act of 2024 would apply to “covered entities”—generally, “any entity that determines the purpose and means of collecting, processing, retaining or transferring covered data.” Covered data includes information “that identifies or links to an individual or device.” It specifically excludes employee data and publicly available information. Small businesses (those that have $40 million or less in annual revenue) would be exempt from the Act. However, it does include targeted advertising—i.e., online ads based on “known or predicted preferences or interests associated with an individual or device identified by a unique identifier.” Biometric and genetic information sharing without express permission from the individual would be prohibited.

Prospects: Sen. Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers are expected to introduce the American Privacy Rights Act in the near future. It is a breakthrough that the long-fought consumer privacy issue is now the subject of a bipartisan and bicameral bill, but given election year partisanship, limited time for any legislation this year, and the fact that Rep. McMorris Rodgers is retiring at the end of this Congress, prospects for enactment any time soon are not good. Plus, perhaps not unexpectedly, some opposition to the proposal is already surfacing. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is expressing concern about the proposal. More opposition—and support—will likely develop over the coming days as other lawmakers familiarize themselves with the proposal.

NAIFA Staff Contact: Michael Hedge – Senior Director – Government Relations, at mhedge@naifa.org.