Could Federal Law on data protection be coming

The privacy of our data has been in the news a lot this year. It has brought some of our favorite social media platforms before Congress for hearings with all of the partisan bickering that we have come to expect from our elected officials in Washington. Overshadowed by the Kavanaugh hearings a few weeks ago was another hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to look at how our private data can be protected better by big tech.

Imitating GDPR?

By now we all have at least heard of the sweeping legislation in Europe known as GDPR. Several US states also have data privacy laws on the books. The Senate hearing was aimed at eventually crafting a national law governing this. It seems that not only is big tech willing to partake in this but they are being given the opportunity to help craft it.

Letting big tech help craft legislation

Several of the largest tech giants in the country were invited to share their thoughts. Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Charter, Google and Twitter all attended. In the past those companies have often pushed back on proposed legislation but in this case they have the opportunity to help sway legislators. Previously these companies have been able to self regulate but with the privacy scandals surrounding giants like Facebook that have been in the news recently it seems that those days are finished.

California crafted what is considered to be the toughest data privacy law in June with a 2020 implementation timeframe. In the bill common Internet users are able to get the data companies have collected from them and they are able to find out who that data has been sold to in detail. This law is being fought by many of the biggest tech companies in the US including some which had representatives at the hearing with the Senate. Illinois and Vermont have also crafted similar laws.

One standard to rule them all

National standards are going to be the only method of solving this issue. With 50 different states with potentially 50 different sets of laws compliance can be extremely difficult and if a state does not have a law their citizens are not being protected. Self regulation has also obviously not worked and those days appear to be over. One national standard will make everything much easier to follow (for both big tech and for consumers) and big tech seems to be taking the opportunity to get behind this and influence it. The Senate is seemingly looking to big tech as a guide for how to proceed. That seems like a match made in heaven for big tech who undoubtedly have their lobbyists working hard as well and want to put an end to California’s new law.

We should not be surprised that this is happening and certainly its intentions appear to be good. The EU’s GDPR has been very heavily publicized and many experts predicted that at least similar US laws would not be far behind. It didn’t take long. Obviously with any piece of legislation it can take time to craft and implement so this would not take effect for some time. The Trump Administration also wants to have consumers make input with transparency and responsibility clearly defined any piece of legislation.

These companies have spent millions of dollars already complying with GDPR which has diverted resources away from innovation and development. Any new privacy law will probably do the same here in the US, but one national standard is certainly better than 50 different ones. At least one Senator also wanted to hear from smaller companies and startups about how the cost would affect them. After all, most companies are really just the size of Nicely Done Sites and not international behemoths like Amazon. They need their voice to be heard too.

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