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Panel looks at online privacy law push as more states introduce bills

As concerns about maintaining privacy skyrocket in the U.S., several states are introducing legislation that gives consumers the power to protect their personal data.

The Federal Communications Bar Association will host an event on June 7, "CLE: Recent Developments in State and Local Tax and Privacy Laws," that will provide an overview of adopted and pending consumer privacy legislation, including in California and Virginia.

California was at the forefront of U.S. privacy legislation with the passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. The law gave consumers the right to know about the collection of their personal information and how it is shared. It also gave Californians the right to opt out of the sale of their information.

Virginia became the second state to pass comprehensive privacy legislation. The Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act, signed into law in March 2021, gave consumers the right to opt out of having their information processed for targeted advertising purposes and the right to correct and delete data collected about them. It will become effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Now, there are at least seven other states considering privacy legislation, including Texas, New York and Illinois, said Sarah Rippy, Westin Research Fellow with the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

The push to broadly protect consumer privacy in the U.S., while nascent in comparison with Europe , is driven in part by growing concerns among consumers about who collects their data and how it is being used.

"In the past couple of years, we've seen data breaches and privacy violations that people just weren't aware of before, and so it's become a hot-button topic not just for companies but also consumers," Rippy said.

Concerns about privacy have also grown during the pandemic amid a growing number of COVID-19 scams involving personal data.

States are stepping up efforts to protect privacy in the absence of a national standard.

There are certain federal protections around privacy related to health and the protection of data for children under the age of 13, said Michelle Cohen, chair of the data privacy practice at the Ifrah Law firm. But there is no comprehensive federal privacy law in the U.S., Cohen said.

"The states decided, 'We're not going to wait,'" Cohen said.

Cohen expects companies to be in favor of a national privacy law so they do not have to navigate a patchwork of state obligations and frameworks. "It's easier to follow one standard than to follow 50," Cohen said.

Still, there has been a difference of opinion among lawmakers over language to be included in various privacy bills, at least 18 of which have failed, Rippy said.

One area some lawmakers have been unable to agree on is the concept of private right of action, which gives individuals the right to sue a company directly over privacy concerns, Rippy said.

Virginia's law does not include a private right of action clause while California's does.

Opponents believe private right of action opens up companies to class action lawsuits, Rippy said.

Government

June 8 The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. ET titled, "Threats to Critical Infrastructure: Examining the Colonial Pipeline Cyber Attack."
June 9

The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee will host a virtual hearing at 12 p.m. ET titled, "Cyber threats in the Pipeline: Using Lessons from the Colonial Ransomware Attack to Defend Critical Infrastructure."

June 9 The U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic Policy will host a virtual hearing at 2:30 p.m. ET entitled, "Building A Stronger Financial System: Opportunities of a Central Bank Digital Currency."

Industry, legal and think tank events

June 7 The FCBA will host an event at 12 p.m. ET titled, "CLE: Recent Developments in State and Local Tax and Privacy Laws."
June 8 The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will host a webinar at 10 a.m. ET titled, "Can Biden Protect US Digital Interests in Europe With a New Strategy of 'Realpolitik'?"
June 9 The FCBA will host an event at 4 p.m. ET titled, "Competition Policy for Online Platforms." Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D.-Minn., will provide keynote remarks.
June 10 Politico will host an event at 2:30 p.m. ET titled, "Resetting Internet Privacy."
June 10 The George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School will host a symposium starting at 8 a.m. ET on the law and economics of privacy and data security.

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