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Summary of September Senate Commerce Hearing on “Examining Safeguards for Consumer Data Privacy”

Summary of Senate Commerce Hearing on “Examining Safeguards for Consumer Data Privacy”

On September 26, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (“Committee”) held a hearing on, “Examining Safeguards for Consumer Data Privacy.” The hearing featured testimony from invited witnesses representing two Internet service providers (“ISPs”) and a group of edge providers. During the hearing, invited witnesses and members of the Committee discussed proposals for comprehensive federal privacy legislation and how potential approaches would address: (1) provisions of the European Union (“EU”) General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”); (2) state law preemption; (3) Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) authority; (4) personally identifiable information (“PII”); (5) default opt-in or opt-out consent; (6) third party data sharing and digital advertising; and (7) children’s privacy. It was noted that the hearing follows related hearings convened by the Committee in November 2017, jointly by the Committee and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in April 2018, and by the Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security in June 2018. Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) noted in his opening remarks that this would not be the only hearing to address legislative approaches to protecting consumer privacy, and that in October 2018, Alastair Mactaggart, a consumer privacy advocate responsible in part for the CCPA, and Andrea Jelinek, head of GDPR enforcement in the EU, have agreed to testify before the Committee. He stated that whether federal data privacy legislation is needed is no longer a question and stated that the question is instead what form such a measure should take. In his concluding remarks, Chairman Thune entered the letter submitted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau into the record.

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