Congressman Vela Introduces Bill to Protect Americans' Data Privacy


Date: Nov. 2, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

Yesterday, Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) reintroduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency to Advance (DATA) Privacy Act to strengthen data privacy protections for American consumers.

An October U.S. Federal Trade Commission study found that internet service providers and other large technology companies have collected a "staggering" amount of consumer data. The report highlights the need for additional Congressional oversight of corporate data practices to protect Americans from invasions of privacy. The DATA Privacy Act will strengthen data privacy protections, give consumers greater control over their data, and hold big tech accountable without unnecessarily burdening small businesses.

"Americans should have the ability to know how big technology companies are collecting and using their personal data," said Congressman Vela. "This legislation will increase corporate transparency regarding data collection and give consumers more control over their information. It will protect Americans' privacy by guaranteeing individuals the right to opt-out of corporate data collection and by holding massive companies accountable for mishandling consumer data."

There are currently no comprehensive laws protecting consumer data privacy in the United States. Recent data breaches and abusive behavior by online companies have prompted calls for federal data privacy legislation, including from major business leaders. The DATA Privacy Act strengthens data privacy protections for American consumers while ensuring corporations are focused on implementing new data security standards and privacy protections. This legislation also promotes research on technologies that protect Americans' privacy and shield small businesses from unnecessary regulation.

The DATA Privacy Act will:

Empower consumers by allowing them to request, dispute the accuracy, and transfer or delete their data without retribution in the form of price or service discrimination by companies.

Ensure accountability and oversight by providing new authorities to state Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission that allow them to levy civil penalties for violations and expanding the National Science Foundation's research into privacy-enhancing technology.

Protect consumer data with the following measures:

Requiring three simple standards to be applied to all data collection, processing, storage, and disclosure:
Reasonable: Must be for a legitimate business or operational purpose that is contextual and does not subject an individual to unreasonable privacy risk.
Equitable: Data may not be used in a discriminatory way, such as targeting job opportunities based on race or age.
Forthright: Businesses cannot engage in deceptive data practices.
Requiring businesses to provide users with reasonable access to a method to opt-out of personal data collection or sharing, as well as opt-in consent when collecting or disclosing sensitive data or disclosing data outside of the parameters of the businesses' relationship with the consumer.
Requiring companies collecting large amounts of personal data to use high-quality data protection standards and to appoint a Privacy Protection Officer to institute a culture of data and privacy protection at companies and to train staff at relevant companies.
Requiring businesses that collect large amounts of personal data to provide access to a privacy notice that is concise, understandable to consumers and that accurately describes their privacy policies.