Public Knowledge Pans Privacy Bill

Public Knowledge, which is all for strong privacy laws, wants to make sure state attempts to do so aren't foreclosed by federal legislation.

Reacting to Sen. Marco Rubio's introduction this week of the American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act, the group said Thursday (Jan. 17) that it was an antiquated effort—based in the 1974 Privacy Act—that already has two strikes against it in their eyes.

It would prevent states from passing their own new privacy laws, and preempt state laws and rules already on the books.

Specifically, the bill requires the Federal Trade Commission to submit recommendations for the privacy requirements Congress can impose on private actors, then submit proposed regulations to impose those requirements, then promulgate a final rule if Congress has not enacted a law based on those recommendations within two years' of the bill's enactment.

Public Knowledge called the bill a step backwards, and suggested that any protections it might create—after walking back state efforts—would be inadvertent (ouch!), and take years to go into effect even then.

There is a two-plus year time frame from the bill's passage and new privacy protections.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“Sen. Rubio’s severely limited bill is better suited to Americans living in 1974 than today," said Gus Rossi, global policy director. "In the post-Equifax era, Americans face a constant stream of data breaches and scandals that clearly demonstrate a need for real protections, not mere lip service. This bill does not adequately protect Americans’ data or give consumers the control they want and need to protect themselves online. We cannot support this bill."

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.