December 03, 2019

Duckworth, Durbin Join Schatz and Colleagues in Reintroducing Legislation to Help Protect People’s Personal Data Online

Data Care Act will stop websites and apps from using personal data to harm users, protect user information from hacks and hold companies accountable for misuse


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with 14 other Senators led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), reintroduced legislation to protect people’s personal data online. The Data Care Act would require websites, apps, and other online providers to take responsible steps to safeguard personal information and stop the misuse of users’ data.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen numerous major hacks or data leaks of private user information from big corporations and it’s clear that Congress needs to act to protect Americans’ personal data online,” said Duckworth. “Health professionals and financial advisors have long been responsible for keeping personal information safe and protected; it’s time we extend this common-sense principle to websites and online providers. I’m proud to join Senators Schatz and Durbin in leading the charge on this important legislation to do that.”
“In the era of ‘big data,’ consumers want to know they can trust websites and apps with their personal information – and that it won’t be misused,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to support the Data Care Act to ensure that online providers are prioritizing data safeguards and locking down sensitive information while holding violators accountable for abusing users’ data.”
Doctors, lawyers and bankers are legally required to exercise special care to protect their clients and not misuse their information. While online companies also hold personal and sensitive information about the people they serve, they are not required to protect consumers’ data. This leaves users in a vulnerable position; they are expected to understand the information they give to providers and how it is being used – an unreasonable expectation for even the most tech-savvy consumer. By establishing an explicit duty for online providers, Americans can trust that their online data is protected and used in a responsible way.
Along with Duckworth, Durbin and Schatz, the Data Care Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).
The Data Care Act establishes reasonable duties that will require providers to protect user data and will prohibit providers from using user data to their detriment:
·         Duty of Care – Must reasonably secure individual identifying data and promptly inform users of data breaches that involve sensitive information;
·         Duty of Loyalty – May not use individual identifying data in ways that harm users;
·         Duty of Confidentiality – Must ensure that the duties of care and loyalty extend to third parties when disclosing, selling or sharing individual identifying data;
·         Federal and State Enforcement – A violation of the duties will be treated as a violation of an FTC rule with fine authority. States may also bring civil enforcement actions, but the FTC can intervene. States and the FTC may go after both first- and third-party data collectors.
·         Rulemaking Authority – FTC is granted rulemaking authority to implement the Act.