(WASHINGTON) — Today, Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) President & CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, & Commerce, at a hearing entitled “Promoting U.S. Innovation and Individual Liberty through a National Standard for Data Privacy.”
Givens’ testimony calls on Congress to pass strong federal privacy protections, and focuses on how current commercial data practices harm consumers, why the U.S. needs comprehensive federal privacy legislation, and what such legislation should include.
“Consumers in the U.S. are currently vulnerable to the social, psychological, and economic harms that result from abuses of their data,” said Givens. “From housing to credit to employment, people’s data can be used to make important decisions about them, often without their knowledge. By our count, this is the 31st hearing held in the U.S. Congress on consumer privacy in the past five years: hearings that have built a detailed record about the overwhelming need for a comprehensive federal privacy law. We commend the Committee’s focus on this issue in the new Congress, and urge it to act without delay.”
CDT has long fought for comprehensive national protections for personal data in the U.S., and over the last five years, Congressional hearings have thoroughly explored the widespread impacts of privacy harms and the subsequent need for a comprehensive privacy law to address them. In 2022, we applauded the House Energy & Commerce Committee for reporting out the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), which we believe represents a reasonable middle ground for protecting privacy and civil rights online.
As Givens highlights in her testimony, any meaningful federal privacy law must feature elements including — among other things — effective data minimization provisions with specific protections for sensitive data; civil rights protections; limits on sharing data with third parties; and mechanisms for meaningful enforcement through the Federal Trade Commission, state Attorneys General, and a private right of action. The ADPPA includes all of these protections and more, and we implore Congress to move the legislation forward.
CDT is a 27-year-old 501(c)3 nonpartisan nonprofit organization that fights to put democracy and human rights at the center of the digital revolution. It works to promote democratic values by shaping technology policy and architecture, with a focus on equity and justice.