Ohio Senator Wants to Shake Up Privacy Regulations

Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, June 25, 2020 | Go to article overview

Ohio Senator Wants to Shake Up Privacy Regulations


In recent months, members of Congress have introduced several bills designed to protect consumer privacy, but one senator said he believes most current legislation doesn’t go far enough. This month, Sen. Sherrod Brown has released draft legislation that would prohibit companies from collecting personal data in many cases, allowing them only to collect it when “strictly necessary.” Brown’s Data Accountability and Transparency Act would end the current privacy practices of many online companies in which they get consumers to consent to data collection described in lengthy and rarely read privacy policies.

The proposal has little chance of passing in an election year, especially when several less expansive privacy bills seem to be going nowhere. But the proposal advances the debate when it’s time for a new privacy model, Brown argued.

“Sen. Brown believes this is the first step in moving the privacy debate away from the common notice-and-consent framework and in shifting the responsibility for protecting our data from consumers to corporations,” said a spokeswoman for the Senate Banking Committee, where Brown serves as the senior Democrat. “Consumers should not have to agree to invasive data collection in order to use basic online services.”

Some privacy groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Public Interest Research Group, praised Brown’s proposal, saying a major change in privacy regulations is needed. Critics, however, said Brown’s proposal would destroy many online business models.

The proposal would “bankrupt companies and shift priorities to compliance vs. entrepreneurship,” said Ivan Assenov, founder of Michigan software and web development firm Scale Campaign. “This will increase the price tag and slow down the information flow to almost zero.”

The proposal also gives “huge power” to state attorneys general to prosecute companies accused of violating regulations. "And it will eventually be used to outmaneuver competitors,” added Assenov, a long-time developer of compliance software.

Brown’s spokeswoman argued that online business models don’t need massive personal data collection to survive. “Advertising and marketing firms have been profitable for years without invasively collecting data — tech companies can use those models or innovate new ones that protect our privacy,” she said.

Brown’s proposal, in addition to allowing personal data collection only when “strictly necessary,” would also ban the use of facial recognition technology and would create a new data privacy enforcement. …

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