The US government may have drafted an online privacy bill (opens in a new tab) following reports that new data privacy legislation is about to be enacted, one with support bipartisan, as well as the support of consumer rights advocates.

It hasn't been enacted yet, but if it's successful, users will be able to opt out of targeted advertising and sue companies that illegally sell their data.

The biggest hurdle between Democrats and Republicans was whether federal law should take precedence over state law. Republicans back that idea, saying anything else would be a compliance nightmare for businesses. Meanwhile, Democrats want consumers to be able to sue companies that play too much with their customer data.

Collect minimal data

The proposed legislation strikes a balance between the two, according to the Washington Post. There would be a limit on how and when people could sue internet companies and certain measures that would replace national digital privacy laws.

Companies would only be allowed to collect data essential to the survival of their operations, and would no longer be allowed to charge users for access to data privacy measures (with a few exceptions). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be required to create a public registry of data brokers and create a mechanism for users to opt out of targeted advertising and data sharing practices. Users would also be free to modify their digital data collected from their browsing habits (opens in a new tab), and otherwise.

To make all of this happen, the FTC would establish a new organization. Federal regulators, as well as state prosecutors, could sue groups they believe are violating these laws for punitive damages. Individuals will also be able to sue, but only after a four-year grace period.

For consumer rights advocates, the proposed bill is "the biggest step forward" in lawmakers' efforts to create a federal privacy law, The Washington Post concluded.

Via: The Washington Post (Opens in a new tab)

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