Cybersecurity Experts Support American Privacy Rights Act Amid State-Level Privacy Concerns

  • Last updated May 10, 2024
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Cybersecurity experts expressed cautious support for the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) during a Senate subcommittee hearing, acknowledging the unified federal approach to data security but questioning its adequacy as a national standard.

Senator John Hickenlooper, chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, encouraged constructive criticism of APRA. The bill, introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, aims to establish a federal standard for data privacy.

Prem Trivedi, policy director at New America’s Open Technology Institute, commended APRA for its privacy safeguards, civil rights protections, and data minimization principles that limit service providers to collecting only essential user data.

However, he disagreed about transferring preemption authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arguing that the FTC lacks specialized regulatory capabilities.

James E. Lee of the Identity Theft Resource Center warned against unintended consequences of data minimization, urging the subcommittee not to reduce data to the point where identity theft could become easier. He recommended stricter data breach notification laws, noting that organizations have discretion over whether to notify users about breaches.

Sen. Hickenlooper urged Congress to “step up” and implement a national standard, emphasizing the need for bipartisan support. He cited 3,205 data breaches in 2023, affecting 143 million individuals.

Ranking member Sen. Marsha Blackburn criticized Congress for its inaction, pointing to the “patchwork” of regulatory frameworks that businesses face due to varying state laws. She highlighted the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as another example of Congress falling behind.

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Sen. Peter Welch expressed concerns about how a national standard could impact small businesses. Trivedi recommended maintaining flexibility and suggested universally applicable safeguards like access control, which limits data access to only necessary employees.

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