Privacy Groups Pan Preemption

Privacy and civil rights groups want the Congress to keep its hands off state privacy efforts in the search for federal privacy legislation, which has bipartisan support in the broad strokes but remains a challenge in the details.

In a "dear congress" letter, over two dozen privacy and civil rights groups said that while they favor baseline federal privacy legislation, they will oppose any bill that preempts stronger state laws. "Not only will preemption leave consumers with inadequate privacy protections, it will likely result in their being worse off than they would be in the absence of federal legislation."

Among the strong laws they want protected are the California Consumer Privacy Act, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, the Vermont Data Broker Act, and the veritable host of others that they say "specifically protect the privacy of schoolchildren and prevent the commercial use of their educational information."

As to federal legislation, they said that they are concerned a bill that broadly defines covered entities and allows for preemption could "inadvertently dismantle state civil rights protections and put already marginalized groups in greater danger."

Related: California Slams Privacy Bill

By contrast, big computer companies and edge providers are in general agreement that federal privacy legislation currently being contemplated by the White House and Congress should preempt state efforts to regulate privacy.

"A national privacy framework should be consistent throughout all states, preempting state consumer privacy and data security laws," the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has told the Trump Administration, which is also looking to come up with baseline privacy rules of the road.

Groups signing on to the "dear Congress" include Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, Common Sense Kids Action, and the Consumer Federation of America.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.