The American Data Privacy and Protection Act

Gilad Edelman, Wired:

Now comes an even bigger surprise: A new version of the ADPPA has taken shape, and privacy advocates are mostly jazzed about it. It just might have enough bipartisan support to become law — meaning that, after decades of inaction, the United States could soon have a real federal privacy statute.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the new bill is that it focuses on what’s known as data minimization. Generally, companies would only be allowed to collect and make use of user data if it’s necessary for one of 17 permitted purposes spelled out in the bill — things like authenticating users, preventing fraud, and completing transactions. Everything else is simply prohibited. Contrast this with the type of online privacy regime most people are familiar with, which is all based on consent: an endless stream of annoying privacy pop-ups that most people click “yes” on because it’s easier than going to the trouble of turning off cookies. That’s pretty much how the European Union’s privacy law, the GDPR, has played out.

If this law is as described and passes more-or-less intact, it could fundamentally reshape the economy of the web and be a model for the rest of the world.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is “disappointed”:

We have three initial objections to the version that the committee passed this week. Before a floor vote, we urge the House to fix the bill and use this historic opportunity to strengthen — not diminish — the country’s privacy landscape now and for years to come.

The Foundation is concerned about rollbacks of FCC authority, poor individual right to action reform, and the preemption of state laws by this national law. The latter is a particularly fraught matter: a federal regulation simplifies compliance, reduces reliance on weak state-level laws lobbied for by tech companies, and improves international competitiveness, but it could mean privacy rollbacks for those in states with more stringent laws. The Foundation points to a few examples, undermining Edelman’s claim that “it goes further than any of the state laws it would preempt — even California’s”.

Look out for reactions to this bill from technology company front groups like the Competitiveness Coalition and American Edge. Both have been focused on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act — perhaps an indication of tech companies’ priorities — but keep an eye out. The Interactive Advertising Bureau unsurprisingly opposes the law, saying it would “impose heavier regulations than any state currently does” — a demonstrably untrue claim.