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Senators Announce Plans to Introduce Data Privacy Bill

US Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; John Thune, R-SD, chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet; Jerry Moran, R-Kan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security; and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn, recently announced plans to introduce the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act. The legislation would provide all Americans with more transparency, choice, and control over the collection and use of their personal health, geolocation, and proximity data. The bill would also hold businesses accountable to consumers if they use personal data to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“As the coronavirus continues to take a heavy toll on our economy and American life, government officials and health care professionals have rightly turned to data to help fight this global pandemic,”  Wicker says. “This data has great potential to help us contain the virus and limit future outbreaks, but we need to ensure that individuals’ personal information is safe from misuse. I am pleased to join Senators Thune, Moran, and Blackburn in introducing legislation to address this critical issue.” 

“While the severity of the COVID-19 health crisis cannot be overstated, individual privacy, even during times of crisis, remains critically important,” Thune says. “This bill strikes the right balance between innovation—allowing technology companies to continue their work toward developing platforms that could trace the virus and help flatten the curve and stop the spread—and maintaining privacy protections for US citizens.” 

“I remain motivated to provide American consumers with clear and measurable protections when it comes to the collection, processing, and transferring of their personally identifiable information,” Moran says. “While many businesses have taken well-intentioned steps to develop technological solutions to tracking, containing, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress must address potentially harmful practices that could stem from these innovations if not held accountable. As Congress seeks to enact a uniform comprehensive data privacy and security framework, thoughtful and targeted legislative efforts, like this bill, will address specific consumer privacy violations resulting from COVID-19.” 

“In the age of social distancing, we are leaning on technology more than ever to stay connected and obtain information,” Blackburn says. “It is paramount that as tech companies utilize data to track the spread of COVID-19, Americans’ privacy and security are not put at risk. Health and location data can reveal sensitive and personal information, and these companies must be transparent with their users.” 

The COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act would do the following: 

Source: US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation