To add to the growing list of federal privacy frameworks introduced this year, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has re-introduced the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 (S. 1667).  Senator Klobuchar introduced the bill originally in 2018 and 2019, although it did not advance to committee in either instance.  Senators Kennedy (R-LA), Burr (R-NC), and Manchin (D-WV) have co-sponsored the bill.

Key provisions in this bill include:
Continue Reading New Privacy Bill Provides Opt-Out Rights and New Data Security Requirements

As the push for Congress to pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation increases, Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) has re-introduced the Information Transparency & Personal Data Control Act, a compromise proposal that contains provisions sought by both parties.  This bill would create national data privacy standards and increase the enforcement authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general.
Continue Reading Bill Introduced Would Preempt State Laws and Strengthen FTC Enforcement 

A number of legislative proposals to amend Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (“Section 230”) have already been introduced in the new Congress.  Section 230 provides immunity to an owner or user of an “interactive computer service” — generally understood to encompass internet platforms and websites — from liability for content posted by a third party.

On February 8, 2021, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms Act (“SAFE TECH Act”), cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).  The bill would narrow the scope of immunity that has been applied to online platforms.  Specifically, the SAFE TECH Act would amend Section 230 in the following ways:
Continue Reading SAFE TECH Act Would Limit Scope and Redesign Framework of Section 230 Immunity

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill that would require tech companies to assist law enforcement in executing search warrants that seek encrypted data.  The bill would apply to law enforcement efforts to obtain data at rest as well as data in motion.  It would also apply to both criminal and national security legal process.  This proposal comes in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s December 2019 hearing on encryption and lawful access to data.  According to its sponsors, the purpose of the bill is to “end[] the use of ‘warrant-proof’ encrypted technology . . . to conceal illicit behavior.”

The bill has three main provisions:
Continue Reading Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act Introduced

The Brazil Senate unanimously approved a bill today that would delay implementation of the Brazil General Law for Data Protection, or LGPD, until January 1, 2021 and enforcement of fines and penalties until August 1, 2021.  The LGPD is currently scheduled to take effect on August 15, 2020.

The draft bill — one of four pending in the Senate that propose to delay implementation of the LGPD — is broad in scope, encompassing not only the LGPD, but also statutes of limitations and sanctions for certain anti-competitive conduct.  Senator Antonio Anastasia, the sponsor of the bill, explained that the bill is intended to give businesses an opportunity to focus on other urgent matters arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Brazil Senate Approves Bill Delaying LGPD Enforcement

On March 5, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act.  The bill, which covers online platforms directed to children and teenagers under 16 years old, aims to curb the time spent by these minors on such platforms and could dramatically affect advertising and influencer content on kids’ channels.

The bill would prohibit platforms directed to minors from implementing features that encourage users to spend more time online, such as “auto-play” settings that automatically load a new video once the selected one finishes playing, push alerts that encourage users to engage with the platform, and the display of positive feedback received from other users.  It would also ban badges or other visual incentives and rewards based on engagement with the platform.

Additionally, the KIDS Act would prohibit platforms from recommending or amplifying certain content involving sexual, violent, or other adult material, including gambling or “other dangerous, abusive, exploitative, or wholly commercial content.”  The bill would require the implementation of a mechanism for users to report suspected violations of content requirements.
Continue Reading New Bill Seeks to Impose Design Restrictions on Kids’ Online Content and Marketing

On February 14, 2020, California State Assembly Member Ed Chau introduced the Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act of 2020, which would require any business in California that provides a person with a program or device that uses an “automated decision system” (“ADS”) to establish processes to “continually test for biases during the development and usage of the ADS” and to conduct an impact assessment on that program or device.

ADS is defined broadly as “a computational process, including one derived from machine learning, statistics, or other data processing or artificial intelligence techniques, that makes a decision or facilitates human decision making, that impacts persons.”  The required ADS impact assessments would study the various aspects of the ADS and its development process, “including, but not limited to, the design and training data of the ADS, for impacts on accuracy, fairness, bias, discrimination, privacy, and security.”  At minimum, the assessments must include “[a] detailed description of the ADS, its design, training provided on its use, its data, and its purpose” and “[a]n assessment of the relative benefits and costs of the ADS in light of its purpose,” with certain factors such as data minimization and risk mitigation required in the cost-benefit analysis.

The provider of the ADS also must determine whether the ADS system “has a disproportionate adverse impact on a protected class,” examine whether it serves “reasonable objectives and furthers a legitimate interest,” and consider alternatives or reasonable modifications that could be incorporated “to limit adverse consequences on protected classes.”
Continue Reading California Introduces Bill to Regulate Automated Decision Systems

On February 12, 2020, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced a plan to create a new Data Protection Agency through her proposed legislation, the Data Protection Act of 2020 (S.3300).

Under the proposal, the new agency would replace the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the “privacy cop on the beat.”  As such, the FTC’s current authority in the privacy space—including its ability to draft guidelines, conduct studies, and issue implementing regulations for certain federal privacy laws, would be transferred to the new agency.

As opposed to the Online Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) that also would create a new privacy agency, Sen. Gillibrand’s bill would not create a new omnibus federal privacy law.  Instead, it is focused on the creation of the Data Protection Agency and its rulemaking authority.  However, various aspects of the new agency’s authority provide valuable insights into what privacy regulation at the federal level might look like under the bill.
Continue Reading Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Proposes New Digital Privacy Agency

While all eyes are on California following the implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) earlier this month and the start of enforcement later this year, other states are off to the privacy races already.  On Monday, Washington State became the latest entrant with the introduction of a revised Washington Privacy Act.

From the proposals introduced so far this year in Washington, Virginia, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Nebraska, it is clear that states will continue to follow last year’s trend of varied approaches to state privacy legislation. While there are variations in state proposals, many of the bills seem to fall into three molds.

CCPA Copycats

The first category of proposals closely track the CCPA.  Some of these bills, like last year’s Mississippi Consumer Privacy Act, are essentially identical to the CCPA or have minor changes.  These bills may lack changes made by the September amendments to the CCPA.  For example, the CCPA originally regulated as personal information all information  “capable” of being associated with a consumer or household, whereas California’s definition is now tied to information “reasonably capable” of being associated with a consumer or household.  The September amendments also eliminated limitations on the scope of publicly available information and added exceptions for employment or business-to-business related data.  These differences were notable in the New Hampshire legislation recently introduced, which was otherwise in line with the CCPA.
Continue Reading State Privacy Trends to Watch in 2020