“This legislation is a game-changer,” says Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff, whose latest book warns of “surveillance capitalism.”
Backed by progressive privacy advocates, a pair of California House Democrats who represent Silicon Valley introduced sweeping legislation on Tuesday that aims to strengthen online user protections and increase accountability for major technology companies—in part by creating a new federal agency.
“Our legislation ensures that every American has control over their own data, companies are held accountable, and the government provides tough but fair oversight.”
—Rep. Anna Eshoo
The Online Privacy Act of 2019, H.R. 4978 (pdf), is sponsored by Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren.
“Our country urgently needs a legal framework to protect consumers from the ever-growing data-collection and data-sharing industries that make billions annually off Americans’ personal information,” said Lofgren. “The Online Privacy Act creates a robust framework that balances the actual needs of businesses with fair privacy rights and expectations for users.”
Today @RepAnnaEshoo & I introduced the most robust data privacy bill to date.
The #OnlinePrivacyAct protects users, encourages innovation, & restores trust in tech companies.
— Rep. Zoe Lofgren (@RepZoeLofgren) November 5, 2019
The new legislation is now ranked #1 by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) among all the privacy bills currently pending in Congress.
“The bill by Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren sets out strong rights for Internet users, promotes innovation, and establishes a Data Protection Agency,” said EPIC policy director Caitriona Fitzgerald. “This is the bill that Congress should enact.”
Specifically, as a joint statement from the congresswomen detailed, the bill “protects individuals, encourages innovation, and restores trust in technology companies” by doing the following:
- Creating User Rights – The bill grants every American the right to access, correct, or delete their data. It also creates new rights, like the right to impermanence, which lets users decide how long companies can keep their data.
- Placing Clear Obligations on Companies – The bill minimizes the amount of data companies collect, process, disclose, and maintain, and bars companies from using data in discriminatory ways. Additionally, companies must receive consent from users in plain, simple language.
- Establishing a Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) – The bill establishes an independent agency led by a director that’s appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for a five-year term. The DPA will enforce privacy protections and investigate abuses.
- Strengthening Enforcement – The bill empowers state attorneys general to enforce violations of the bill and allows individuals to appoint nonprofits to represent them in private class action lawsuits.
“Every American is vulnerable to privacy violations with few tools to defend themselves,” said Eshoo. “Our legislation ensures that every American has control over their own data, companies are held accountable, and the government provides tough but fair oversight.”
According to a fact sheet (pdf) from the sponsors, the bill also includes protections for journalists and creates an Open Source Machine Learning Training Data Grant Program.
“This legislation helps to define a new era in our nation and around the world as citizens seek an alternative road to a digital future, one that is compatible with the rights of individuals and the aspirations of a democratic society.”
—Shoshana Zuboff, professor and author
Shoshana Zuboff, professor emerita at Harvard Business School and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, welcomed Eshoo and Lofgren’s proposal, calling it “a significant milestone as lawmakers around the world take critical aim at the surveillance-based economics that now dominate the Internet.”
“This legislation is a game-changer in several key ways,” Zuboff said in the lawmakers’ statement. “First, it reframes the privacy debate from the notoriously flawed regime of ‘notice and consent’ to the human rights of users.”
“Also, the act establishes a long overdue Digital Privacy Agency with important new investigatory, legal, and law enforcement powers,” she explained. “This legislation helps to define a new era in our nation and around the world as citizens seek an alternative road to a digital future, one that is compatible with the rights of individuals and the aspirations of a democratic society.”
Free Press Action senior policy counsel Gaurav Laroia declared Tuesday that the bill “marks a major moment in the ongoing legislative debate around consumer privacy.”
— Free Press (@freepress) November 5, 2019
“Misuses of private information chill free expression, cause reputational harms, inflict harmful price discrimination, and create other adverse impacts to people’s civil rights,” Laroia added in a statement. “Many of these data practices have disproportionate impacts on people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups.”
“It’s far past time,” Laroia concluded, “for the United States to adopt privacy regulations that protect people’s rights and give individuals—not corporations—control over how personal data is used.”
A Biden win will likely strip Mitch McConnell of all his power: CNN
According to CNN polling analyst Harry Enten, should Joe Biden win the election on Nov. 3rd it will likely be part of a Democratic tidal wave that will also flip to the Senate to Democratic control -- and strip current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of his power.
Citing polls in which GOP incumbents are tied or trailing their Democratic opponents, Enten noted that Biden holds leads in those states and his popularity could sweep the down-ticket Democrats into the office too, handing Democrats control of the Senate to go along with the House where they are expected to remain in control.
Trump defender buried on CNN for defending GOP push to seize Supreme Court seat
On CNN Saturday, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman tore into GOP counterpart Alice Stewart for defending the GOP's Supreme Court power grab.
"I think it's important that [Republicans] proceed without delay on this," said Stewart. "They have the constitutional obligation to do so. And the Senate and in this administration. They also have historical precedent, given the timeline, this can be done. Many have been done in a much shorter time frame, as well as voters voted Republicans to control the Senate."
"I have to ask Alice, where was that constitutional obligation when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland?" said Zimmerman. "Of course the Republicans said it would be inappropriate, it was too close to a presidential election. Let's understand ... she is being chosen by Donald Trump and Mike Pence because they want to fill that Supreme Court, because they're going to be election challenges coming up and they want to make sure they have a vote that's going to rig the court in their favor."
Colin Powell ally calls on House to begin ‘immediate’ impeachment hearings on Bill Barr
Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday Morning with Ali Velshi, former Colin Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should immediately begin impeachment hearings against Attorney General Bill Barr.
After discussing Donald Trump's threat to not strep down peacefully should he lose in November, Wilkerson turned his ire on Barr who has been accused of acting like the president's personal attorney.
Addressing Trump's riling up his base with accusations of election theft, Wilkerson said, "This is a very, very dicey situation that he's creating, and I don't think he's smart enough to realize that he is creating it to the extent that he is."