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Is New Federal Privacy Legislation on the Horizon?

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and large technology companies are requesting change when it comes to data privacy and security laws.  The US Chamber of Commerce has asked Congress to develop new federal data privacy legislation to preempt state laws, while companies such as Facebook and Google are lobbying the administration for similar change.

Against the backdrop of Europe’s GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (effective in 2020), businesses argue they need clarity and consistency.  As such, they are proposing a set of rules that would give them some leeway over how personal digital information is handled.  There is great concern that California is setting the benchmark for other states and with various laws, businesses that operate across state lines would have a regulatory nightmare in maintaining compliance.

In terms of enforcement, the Chamber is seeking business-friendly rules, arguing that enforcement “should only apply where there is concrete harm to individuals,” and that “a federal privacy framework should not create a private right of action for privacy enforcement.”

The Chamber argues that consumers benefit from the responsible use of data, giving them more options than ever when it comes to goods, services, information, and entertainment.  However, it also recognizes the goal that consumers must have assurance that data is safeguarded and used responsibly.  To that end, it offers the following privacy principles that should be included in any federal legislation:

  1. Nationwide Privacy Framework.
  2. Privacy Protections Should be Risk-Focused and Contextual.
  3. Transparency.
  4. Industry Neutrality.
  5. Flexibility.
  6. Harm-Focused Enforcement.
  7. Enforcement Should Promote Efficient and Collaborative Compliance.
  8. International Leadership.
  9. Encouraging Privacy Innovation.
  10. Data Security and Breach Notification.


Everyone seems to be in agreement that privacy and data security have never been more important.  However, whether these issues should be dealt with at the state or federal level is yet to be agreed upon.  How the efforts of the US Chamber of Commerce and these large companies play out over the coming months and years will help determine this issue.

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