There is Still Hope for Federal Privacy Legislation, but it May be Delayed

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Highly-publicized data breaches and frequent scandals involving the collection and sale of personal data have made online privacy a bipartisan issue. Lawmakers have proposed a number of solutions. One of those proposals is a bill to create rules governing online privacy, headed by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Brian Schatz, and Maria Cantwell, and Republican Senators Jerry Moran, Roger Wicker, and John Thune.

Republicans evidently hope to complete a draft of the bill by the end of May so it can be introduced, debated, and voted out of committee before Congress leaves for its August recess. Several issues have divided lawmakers along partisan lines. A key issue is whether any federal bill would preempt stricter state laws, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act. Republicans have long wanted to ensure that any federal framework will preempt any similar state law, while Democrats are determined to permit states to enact more stringent privacy regulations. A further dispute involves whether consumers will have a private right of action to bring suit against companies for privacy violations, and the extent of that right of action.

These disagreements may delay, or even kill, a bill that has bipartisan support in a sharply divided Congress.