Lawmakers in New Jersey are proposing a bill to solidify data privacy guidelines and inflict tougher limits on the tech industry, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday (March 2).
The bill mandates that tech firms get authorization from New Jersey consumers before collecting and selling information to third parties. The legislation would affect tech companies such as Alphabet’s Google and Facebook.
“This is all about consumer awareness and consumer choice,” said Rep. Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon), chairman of the Assembly’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee and lead sponsor of the legislation.
He added that his committee is holding a public hearing for feedback on March 16.
New Jersey joins Washington, Illinois and other states and regions in introducing data privacy laws. The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect in January, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in 2018.
The New Jersey bill mandates that any firms collecting personal data tell people in plain language how the information will be used. The measure also empowers consumers to ask companies for a copy of their personal data and request that the information is deleted.
Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said laws are necessary to safeguard consumers from being exploited. “We need strong restrictions to limit the unchecked mass-scavenging of our personal information, and we in the States will be the ones leading these conversations,” he said.
The Internet Association, a trade group serving Big Tech companies, said individual states should wait for federal intervention before enacting their own laws.
“Americans should be confident that their data is protected regardless of where they live, work or travel,” said Robert Callahan, senior vice president of state government affairs for the Internet Association. “Our message to state legislatures is that the best solution is a comprehensive federal privacy law that empowers people to understand how [the] personal information they share is collected, used and protected.”
Legislative actions on behalf of individual states have shown that there is not an agreement on the best way to approach digital privacy laws, said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. The result of single-state legislation could result in a patchwork of laws that force businesses to establish state-specific compliance systems, he added.
“It creates really sticky regulatory problems for any businesses doing work across state lines,” Goldman said.
On March 21, retailers doing business in New York State will be faced with a new law regarding data security. Retailers of all sizes will be forced to prepare for new, stricter regulations.