Klobuchar has introduced comprehensive privacy legislation to protect consumers’ personal data
WASHINGTON — Today, at a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing titled, “Revisiting the Need for Federal Data Privacy Legislation,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) highlighted the urgent need to protect consumers’ privacy and the importance of key provisions in her bill with Senator Cantwell, Scatz, and Markey--the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA)--to ensure consumers have access and control over their data, including the right to opt-out of their data being used and to ensure the terms of service are clear for consumers. Klobuchar also emphasized the need for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to have rulemaking authority to enforce federal privacy laws and the resources to do so.
Klobuchar also highlighted the need for her bipartisan bill with Senator Murkowski--the Protecting Personal Health Data Act--to protect consumers’ private health data not covered under existing privacy law. The bill would address health privacy concerns by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to promulgate regulations for new health technologies such as health apps, wearable devices like Fitbits, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits that are not regulated by existing laws.
In her questions, Klobuchar asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra if consumers should be able to opt out of the collection of data: “Do you agree that consumers should be able to opt out of the collection and sharing of data? This is something that Senators Cantwell, Schatz, Markey and I put out, as well as a bill I have with Senator Kennedy.”
Attorney General Becerra responded, “Yes I do. I do because every consumer should be able to own and control his or her data. It’s our data and we should have the first say of how it’s used and if we decide that we don’t want anyone to use it, it’s our choosing.”
Klobuchar went on to ask Former Chairman and Commissioner of the FTC Jon Leibowitz about health data privacy.
“Mr. Liebowitz, new technologies have made it easier for people to monitor their health. Health tracking apps, wearable technology, and home DNA testing... and it’s given a lot of companies access to consumers’ private health data which is not protected under existing privacy law. In June, Senator Murkowski and I introduced legislation to get at this. Do you want to comment on the need for this kind of legislation?”
Liebowitz responded, “Yeah, I think it would be incredibly helpful.”
Video of remarks from the hearing can be found HERE.
In her role as a senior Member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers’ personal data--including health data--and online privacy.
In August, Klobuchar sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons urging the FTC to take action to address the troubling data collection and sharing practices of the mobile application (“app”) Premom, which was sharing personal health data—such as fertility, hormone, and ovulation information—to third parties, which was materially different from what their privacy policies stated.
In June, Klobuchar joined Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to introduce the Exposure Notification Privacy Act to protect the privacy of consumers’ personal health data collected via contact tracing applications. The legislation makes participation in commercial online exposure notification systems voluntary and gives consumers strong controls over their personal data, limits the types of data that can be collected and how it can be used, and contains strong enforcement provisions.
In November 2019, Klobuchar joined Senators Cantwell and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) in introducing comprehensive federal privacy legislation to establish privacy rights, outlaw harmful and deceptive practices, and improve data security safeguards for consumers. The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) gives Americans control over their personal data; prohibits companies from using consumers’ data to harm or deceive them; establishes strict standards for the collection, use, sharing, and protection of consumer data; protects civil rights; and penalizes companies that fail to meet data protection standards. The legislation also codifies the rights of individuals to pursue claims against entities that violate their data privacy rights.
That month, Klobuchar and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging the agency to examine a collaboration between Google and Ascension health system that enables Google to collect the personal health information of roughly 50 million Americans—including personally identifiable information, lab results, hospital records, and physician diagnoses—without their knowledge or consent.
In June 2019, Klobuchar and Murkowski introduced the Protecting Personal Health Data Act, bipartisan legislation to protect consumers’ private health data not covered under existing privacy law. The Protecting Personal Health Data Act addresses these health privacy concerns by requiring the Secretary of HHS to promulgate regulations for new health technologies such as health apps, wearable devices like Fitbits, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits that are not regulated by existing laws. In January 2019, Klobuchar and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act, bipartisan legislation that would protect the privacy of consumers’ online data by improving transparency, strengthening consumers’ recourse options when a breach of data occurs, and ensuring companies are compliant with privacy policies that protect consumers.