Privacy Takes Priority in House and Senate Committees

Bipartisan bicameral draft privacy legislation released and hearings announced.

April 12, 2024

House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released their draft bill, the American Privacy Rights Act of 2024, with the goal of establishing a national standard for data privacy and security. This announcement is the latest attempt by Congress to eliminate a patchwork of state privacy laws and pass one national privacy standard, giving consumers more control over their data.

The American Privacy Rights Act of 2024 provides the ability of consumers to access, correct, delete and export their data, along with giving them the ability to prevent the transfer or selling of their data and know when their data has been transferred to foreign entities. It also allows individuals to opt out of targeted advertising, creates a national data broker registry and data broker “do not collect” option for individuals. The draft bill also gives individuals the right to sue entities that have violated their privacy rights and receive compensation for damages when they’ve been harmed. You can view the bill here and its summary here.

NACS has long advocated for a uniform national privacy law and helped co-found the Main Street Privacy Coalition. The goal of the group is to have a federal data privacy and security framework that creates clear protection for Americans’ data while allowing businesses, like convenience and fuel retailers, to serve their customers in the ways customers have come to rely upon.

In general, NACS believes any federal privacy legislation should apply to all industry sectors rather than shifting the requirements onto the retail sector of the economy. A federal law should not pick regulatory winners and losers among different business sectors, nor should it exempt any industry or business. Only by ensuring all businesses are responsible for their own data practices can legislation protect consumers without loopholes. In addition, consumer-facing businesses should not be required to use contracts with their service providers and take on the role of enforcing compliance with privacy practices on businesses with which they work.

NACS also believes that any federal data privacy framework should preserve the relationship between businesses and their customers. It must ensure that customers are able to receive all of the products and services they expect from retailers—including discounts or enhanced services they earn from being loyal customers. For businesses to offer such loyalty programs, they must keep track of transactions with customers who choose to enroll in these programs in order to offer rewards.

After releasing its draft bill, both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee have announced legislative hearings on the proposal. The House Energy and Commerce Committee hopes to mark up the privacy proposal in the coming weeks.