Dec. 13, 2018

Consumer, Privacy, Civil Rights Groups Tell Congress That States Must Have Power to Safeguard Privacy

Lawmakers Must Not Support Data Lobby Push for Pre-Emption

Congress should give states the room and the power to develop their own privacy solutions, 16 leading consumer, privacy and civil rights groups said in a letter (PDF) today to members of Congress.

The letter comes as congressional lawmakers introduce proposals that would provide the first-ever federal data privacy protections for consumers. Technology companies are pushing for states to be prohibited from putting in place stronger data privacy protections than the federal government – which likely would leave consumers with inadequate protections. The federal effort to address data privacy has been picking up steam since the summer, when California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, a strong state law set to take effect in 2020.

The groups, which include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Color of Change, Consumer Federation of America, EPIC and Public Citizen, said that congressional lawmakers should not pass any legislation that would pre-empt states’ freedom to address and adapt to current and emerging privacy threats, including threats to data security.

“Federal privacy legislation that preempts stronger state laws would only benefit technology companies at the expense of the public,” the groups said. “We urge you to focus intently on the rights and dignity of your constituents by actively opposing any proposals to preempt stronger state laws in federal privacy legislation, so that existing state protections – both regulatory standards and liability rules – are maintained and so that states are free to adopt new protections.”

Read the full letter.