Efforts from lawmakers in the U.S. to come up with a national privacy law have hit a wall, with Senators unable to agree on how strict the rule should be.
The Financial Times, citing people briefed on the talks, reported Senators that are creating what may be the equivalent to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation are having a hard time agreeing on the key items in the bill. The tech industry wants to see a bill passed by the end of 2019, before a privacy bill approved in California is enforced. California’s law is the strictest in the country, which the tech companies have said would be hard to comply with. If Congress comes up with a national law, the tech companies hope it will override what California has on the books.
Despite the hopes of the tech companies, The Financial Times reported that after months of discussions among the lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee, they haven't been able to publish a draft of the bill. The aim had been to release it months ago, but talks between Republicans and Democrats have pretty much stopped. “If the industry simply wants a bill that is going to water down California, they haven’t got a hope. There is no way the Democrats will agree to anything like that,” a Democrat adviser told the FT. “Talks are at a standstill now. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t manage to come up with a draft at all.” The roadblock appears to be over whether individuals can sue companies for data breaches.
If lawmakers are able to come up with a bill, it would mark the first time that tech companies would have to give customers access to their data, in some instances stop collecting it and be prohibited from selling it to third parties. Many had thought the bill would pass since lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have express concerns about tech companies ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In that case, the now defunct political consulting company had access to 87 million Facebook users’ data without their permission.
If there is no law on the books by Jan. 1, the tech industry faces the chance that California’s law becomes the national standard, which is why they have pushed for lawmakers to come up with something.