Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., reintroduced the Information Privacy and Data Transparency Act that would adapt state privacy laws and proposals into a national standard for data privacy. She introduced a similar version of the legislation in 2019, but it ultimately did not gain traction.

There is currently no national data privacy standard, and the congresswoman’s bill would require companies to write their privacy policies in plain English – understandable to the layman – as well as put in place other privacy policy standards.

“Data privacy is a 21st Century issue of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights and the U.S. has no policy to protect our most sensitive personal information from abuse. With states understandably advancing their own legislation in the absence of federal policy, Congress needs to prioritize creating a strong national standard to protect all Americans. This bill will create those critical protections,” DelBene said in a March 10 press release.

Beyond writing their privacy policies in plain English, companies would also be required to have an opt-in option for users before companies disclose sensitive information. The bill also would require companies to disclose when and to whom they share users’ sensitive information.

The bill would preempt state privacy laws and empower the Federal Trade Commission as the law’s enforcement agency. The bill would also give state attorneys general authority to enforce infractions if the FTC chooses not to. Finally, the bill would require companies to submit third-party audits every two years.

DelBene said creating such a standard is important not just nationally, but for the United States to set an example internationally.

“This is an international issue as much as it is a domestic concern. If we do not have a clear domestic policy, we will not be able to shape standards abroad, and risk letting others, like the European Union, drive global policy,” DelBene said.

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