One day after Google CEO Sundar Pichai was questioned on data privacy during a House hearing, a group of 15 Democratic senators has proposed a new bill for protecting personal information online.
The Data Care Act, proposed by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and more than a dozen co-sponsors, including Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), would create new rules around how companies that collect user data can handle that information.
Under the act, data collectors would be required to “reasonably secure” identifying information, to not use that information in a harmful way, and to give notice to consumers about breaches of sensitive information. The requirement extends to third parties, if the data collectors share or sell that data with another entity, and the plan would also give the FTC new authority to fine companies that act deceptively with users’ data.
Requires companies to “reasonably secure” data
The proposal is one of a handful, as Congress looks for the best way to regulate the tech industry. Related pitches have been made by lawmakers including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who proposed a bill in the fall that would jail executives who mishandle consumer data.
The Data Care Act received some cautious approval from privacy activists. EFF legislative analyst India McKinney said in a statement that the organization will “look forward to working with the Senator to improve his bill and to advance information fiduciary protections that will meet the needs of Internet users and adequately safeguard consumer data privacy as a part of comprehensive privacy legislation.”
“People have a basic expectation that the personal information they provide to websites and apps is well-protected and won’t be used against them,” Schatz said in a statement. “Just as doctors and lawyers are expected to protect and responsibly use the personal data they hold, online companies should be required to do the same.”