Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

As Congress considers how to regulate technology companies’ handling of personal data, the Internet Association, whose members include Google and Facebook, and BSA/The Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft and Oracle, issued their own proposals. Among the six principles that the Internet Association endorsed is data portability, which allows consumers to take their personal information from one service to another that provides a similar service. BSA/The Software Alliance issued a 10-point framework.

Bloomberg reports that Internet Association president Michael Beckerman said his group’s members “understand that people’s trust in online platforms is essential to the success of the Internet,” and that “continuous improvement to both products and regulation are important and necessary for a thriving Internet.”

BSA/The Software Alliance (formerly known as the Business Software Alliance) offered proposals such as the “affirmative express consent” from consumers for use of sensitive data, which “parallels some of Europe’s new privacy rules” and goes beyond California’s new privacy law’s “opt out” power for consumers. “Now is the time to modernize the law,” said BSA president Victoria Espinel.

Other proposals by both groups “call for policies that would allow users to know whether and how companies are using personal information they provide and let them request corrections or deletions of their data in certain circumstances.” Both groups also want national privacy standards to “preempt state laws and place primary enforcement of such regulations in the hands of the Federal Trade Commission.”

“We appreciate that the industry finally acknowledges it needs legislation and regulation, and that they are at least paying lip-service to the notion that individuals deserve control, access, portability, and deletion rights in addition to transparency,” said advocacy group Common Sense senior counsel Ariel Fox Johnson, whose group supported the strict California law. But she — and likely other privacy advocates — didn’t want state laws to be preempted by a national law, saying, “states are much better prepared to be nimble in the face of future threats to American consumers, families, and kids.”

On September 26, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on “the privacy policies of top technology companies,” at which representatives from Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Google, and Twitter are scheduled to testify.

“This hearing will provide leading technology companies and Internet service providers an opportunity to explain their approaches to privacy, how they plan to address new requirements from the European Union and California, and what Congress can do to promote clear privacy expectations without hurting innovation,” said Senator John Thune (D-South Dakota).

One day earlier, Republican state attorneys general will brief Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is considering an investigation of social media companies.

Related:
Internet Group Backs ‘National’ Data Privacy Approach, Reuters, 9/11/18