Over the past month, the U.S. Department of Commerce met with representatives from Facebook and Google, consumer advocates, and Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast to draft a proposal to protect web users’ privacy on a national level.
The meetings are focused on developing a data privacy framework at the Federal level that could serve as a blueprint for Congress to pass sweeping legislation similar to the European Union's General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). In June, Governor Jerry Brown enacted The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which takes effect in 2020. California's law is modeled after the GDPR.
According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 22 meetings with more than 80 companies have been held on this topic over the last month. A draft proposal from the Chamber of Commerce calls on Congress to adopt a law that preempts states so that local legislatures don’t try to pass their own more restrictive privacy laws as California has done.
“Through the White House National Economic Council, the Trump Administration aims to craft a consumer privacy protection policy that is the appropriate balance between privacy and prosperity,” Lindsay Walters, the President's Deputy Press Secretary, told the Washington Post. “We look forward to working with Congress on a legislative solution consistent with our overarching policy.”
What does this all mean for us? It means that every website that collects personally identifiable information of any kind from another human being will be subject to the fines and penalties imposed by these new laws. It also means that we'll be keeping business, intellectual property, and data privacy attorneys busy drafting new data privacy policies and procedures for data breach notifications for our online businesses, whether breaches occur or not.
And if the U.S. law is anything like the GDPR, we'll have to obtain consent before we can even send anyone an email and provide a way for consumers to control their own data and remove it from our sites, if they so desire. It's only a matter of time until these new laws impact us. Start planning now to invest into the updates that will become necessary to protect your online business.