A federal privacy bill gaining momentum in the House faces much steeper challenges in the Senate as the Democratic leadership is not supporting the bipartisan proposal.
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviews the American Data and Privacy Protection Act on Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee’s Democratic chairwoman has suggested lawmakers are wasting their time.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington Democrat, has not endorsed the bill and indicated Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer will not do so either.
“Chuck Schumer has already said there’s no way they’re bringing that bill up in the Senate, so they can come back to the table on something strong,” Ms. Cantwell told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
The privacy bill unveiled this month was years in the making, according to the bill’s authors Reps. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington state Republican; and Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican. Mr. Pallone and Ms. Rodgers represent the bipartisan leadership of the House committee marking up the privacy bill on Thursday.
Ms. Cantwell cited problems with enforcement and concerns about the privacy bill’s preempting states with a weaker federal standard.
Mr. Pallone defended the bill’s provisions, writing in a memo ahead of Thursday’s review that the Federal Trade Commission is the regulator charged with enforcing the law. The bill would create a new FTC privacy bureau to be fully operational within a year of passage.
“The legislation provides three means of enforcement — the FTC, state attorneys general and state privacy authorities, and a private right of action,” Mr. Pallone wrote in the memo. “The FTC may obtain civil penalties for all violations of the act. State attorneys general and privacy authorities may bring cases pertaining to violations of the act in federal court for injunctive relief; to obtain damages, penalties, restitution or other compensation; and to obtain reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs.”
The proposal also takes aim at the algorithms sorting through people’s data. Mr. Pallone wrote that the bill would require data-holders to submit annual algorithmic impact assessments describing the design of the algorithms, the data used and steps to mitigate harm, among other things.