The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released model privacy legislation calling for a federal privacy law that would protect consumers and eliminate a confusing patchwork of state laws. The U.S. Chamber worked with nearly 200 organizations of all sizes and sectors to draft the model legislation.

“Technology has changed the way consumers and businesses share and use data, and voluntary standards are no longer enough,” said Tim Day, senior vice president of C_TEC, the Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center. “New rules of the road are necessary and it is time for congress to pass a federal privacy law. The Chamber’s model privacy legislation puts consumers in control and ensures businesses can innovate while operating with certainty and providing transparency.”

The model legislation would require businesses to be transparent about how personal information is used by posting a privacy policy that is easily accessible. Businesses would also have to comply with requests from consumers regarding how personal information is being used and shared.

Opt-out and data deletion provisions are a critical part of ensuring consumers have control of how personal information is used. Opt-out rights allow a consumer to direct a business to stop sharing information about them and data deletion allows a consumer to tell a business to delete personal information. Common sense exceptions to these provisions, such as criminal history, are included in the model legislation. A consumer could not ask a business to stop sharing or delete criminal history information under either of these provisions.

The model legislation would support innovation through regulatory certainty. Businesses would comply with one nationwide privacy framework, as opposed to having to navigate 50 unique state laws. The model legislation would also help strengthen trust between consumers and businesses, which is critical to innovation. Consumers would be comfortable sharing personal information that enables benefits of the data-driven economy.

The FTC would be tasked with enforcing the model legislation and would have the ability to impose civil penalties on businesses that violate transparency, opt-out or data deletion provisions. While consumers have always been able to file complaints with the FTC, under the model legislation, failing to comply with these provisions would be a violation of the FTC’s unfair or deceptive practices in commerce provisions — commonly known as Section 5 of the FTC Act — that gives the FTC the ability to impose civil penalties.

A one-pager on the model legislation is available here, and the text is available here.

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