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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Data Privacy Bill

 |  May 20, 2021

Klobuchar (Democrat – Minnesota) has teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. John Kennedy (Republican – Louisiana), Joe Manchin (Democrat – West Virginia), and Richard Burr (Republican – North Carolina), to reintroduce the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act. The privacy legislation would force websites to grant users greater control over their data and allow them to opt out of data tracking and collection.

“For too long companies have profited off of Americans’ online data while consumers have been left in the dark,” Klobuchar said in a statement to The Verge. “This legislation will protect and empower consumers by allowing them to make choices about how companies use their data and inform them of how they can protect personal information.”

The bill would also require platforms to write their terms of service agreements in plain language so users understand what they’re accepting by using the platforms. If a website were to suffer a data breach, it would have to notify users within 72 hours of it occurring.

“In today’s world, ownership and agency over one’s internet data is essential in protecting users’ privacy online,” Burr said. “This bipartisan legislation is a commonsense step in granting individuals a greater ownership over the type of information companies may collect on them.”

Klobuchar first introduced the bill in 2019 after Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. At the time, the bill stalled without support from the Republican majority — but now that Democrats control Congress, it has a new chance to move forward.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission announced a US$5 billion settlement with Facebook after a yearlong investigation into the scandal. As part of the settlement, the company is required to conduct quarterly privacy reviews and obtain purpose and use certifications from third-party developers that want to use Facebook data.

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