House Committee Advances Major Privacy Bill

The measure would limit how tech firms collect, process and transfer consumers’ online data.

July 21, 2022

Lady with Smartphone and Lockscreen

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a comprehensive data-privacy bill in a 53-2 bipartisan vote. The bill attempts to set a national standard for how businesses, particularly tech companies, collect and use Americans’ data, reports The Hill.

In response to the vote, the Main Street Privacy Coalition, of which NACS is a founding member, sent a letter to the committee leaders thanking the committee for including changes made to the bill that ensure that the customer loyalty programs so popular with American consumers are protected, as well as a bipartisan amendment to ensure service providers appropriately protect consumer privacy under the bill.

However, the coalition noted that there are other issues of concern that have not been addressed and said that the current ADPPA is not yet in a workable form for Main Street.

“Main Street businesses—many of whom have struggled to remain open to serve consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now facing historic pressures from the confluence of inflation, supply chain constraints, and labor shortages—will bear the full burden of complying with the regulatory obligations under the ADPPA that the committee is considering and are not exempt from its provisions,” wrote the coalition in the letter.

Last month, NACS General Counsel Doug Kantor testified on behalf of Main Street Privacy Coalition during a House Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing on strengthening data privacy and security.

“Having data privacy and security laws that create clear protections for Americans while allowing our members’ businesses to serve their customers in the ways they have come to rely upon is a key goal. Achieving that goal, however, has been elusive,” said Kantor in his testimony before the committee.

Kantor said that one of the challenges that has been central to this effort is the overwhelming focus on the data practices of technology companies. Privacy law needs to work for Main Street, said Kantor. The “Main Street” Kantor refers to includes the businesses that line America’s business thoroughfares, including convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, hotels and home builders, among many others.

“Simply to ensure that business occurs as intended on a daily basis requires large volumes of data to be used and exchanged by a multiplicity of different actors. The ways in which this happens are incredibly diverse across the economy and therefore quite complex. That diversity and complexity is one of the reasons that writing legislation to cover privacy is so challenging,” said Kantor.

Here is Kantor’s full testimony.