Sens. Markey, Blumenthal Introduce Opt-In Edge Privacy Bill

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), have introduced the Privacy Bill of Rights bill, the Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (CONSENT) Act, which would require edge providers to obtain opt-in consent to use, share or sell users' personal info.

It would not extend opt-in to data collection, but would require edge providers to notify users of such collection.

Related: FTC Confirms Facebook Is Target of Probe

The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish online protections for "customers" of online edge providers, including Facebook and Google.

“The avalanche of privacy violations by Facebook and other online companies has reached a critical threshold, and we need legislation that makes consent the law of the land," said Markey.

Blumenthal added, “The startling consumer abuses by Facebook and other tech giants necessitate swift legislative action rather than overdue apologies and hand-wringing."

Related: Rutledge Says Hill Needs to Require Opt-in for Web Info Sharing

Specifically, the bill:

  • "Requires edge providers to obtain opt-in consent from users to use, share, or sell users’ personal information;
  • "Requires edge providers to develop reasonable data security practices;
  • "Requires edge providers to notify users about all collection, use and sharing of users’ personal information;
  • "Requires edge providers to notify users in the event of a breach; [and]
  • "Requirements are enforced by the FTC."

The bill's introduction came in advance of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees (joint session) Tuesday (April 10) on use, and misuse, of online users' data.

Related: Zuckerberg Says Facebook Didn't Do Enough to Prevent Fake News

Markey and Blumenthal had both requested that Zuckerberg testify following the revelations that political research firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed and monetized Facebook users' data without their permission, which Facebook said was a violation of its policies.

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.