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Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Business groups lining up against data privacy bill

With the House Energy and Commerce Committee moving toward a Thursday markup of a major data privacy bill, business groups are coming out against the legislation, demanding members oppose the measure unless major changes are made.

More than 150 state-level trade association groups, working under the aegis of the National Retail Federation — which includes industry giants Amazon and Walmart — told Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), the top Democrat on the panel, they’re seeking “significant changes… to address our concerns with the private right of action and service provider requirements within the bill.”

From the groups’ letter:

The retail groups also argue that “the bill makes Main Street liable for the privacy violations of big tech companies on the theory that Main Street should police what the tech companies do on privacy even though our members are just not equipped to do that.”

Privacy for America, a coalition of advertising industry groups, opposes the proposed legislation as well.

In its own letter to McMorris Rodgers and Pallone, the group wrote that the proposed bill “would significantly hamper everyday engagement between companies and individuals, cut individuals off from the products, services, information, and resources they enjoy and rely on today, and stifle the innovative American economy.”

Specifically, the group says the legislation would essentially ban commonly used targeted advertising tools while making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to collect data on individuals suspected of committing a crime or conspiring to do so.

Two other advertising industry groups — the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies — said the proposal “would eviscerate the modern advertising industry.” This letter was first reported by Politico Influence.

The bipartisan CMR-Pallone bill would create new federal privacy standards. It includes an updated version of COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It mandates a ban on “targeted advertising” to minors, among other restrictions. And there’s a “private right of action” that allows individual Americans to sue “covered entities” that use their personal data without consent.

A Hill source close to the issue dismissed the letters as “the same playbook and talking points [business groups] have been using for years.”

The source added: “They are the ones watering down state laws and now actively working to make it a patchwork.”

— John Bresnahan and Andrew Desiderio

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