Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Senate Republicans are slated to reject a Democratic bill later today intended to protect access to IVF nationwide.

Cantwell-CMR data privacy bill unveiled, now the hard part starts

A bipartisan, bicameral agreement on data privacy has finally emerged after years of hand-wringing and competing proposals stood in the way. Now the question is whether there will be enough support to pass it — or will Big Tech seek to derail it?

As we scooped on Friday, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) have unveiled a joint proposal on an issue that has so far stymied lawmakers.

Here’s the text of the bill and a summary of the American Privacy Rights Act, or APRA. Cantwell and McMorris Rodgers gave interviews to their local paper, the Spokesman-Review, on Sunday.

“This landmark legislation represents the sum of years of good faith efforts in both the House and Senate,” Cantwell and McMorris Rodgers said in a joint statement. “Americans deserve the right to control their data and we’re hopeful that our colleagues in the House and Senate will join us in getting this legislation signed into law.”

The legislation, which they’re dubbing a “discussion draft,” would set strict limits on private companies’ use of Americans’ data. As we first disclosed on Friday, this would essentially create the first-ever national data privacy standard, replacing assorted state standards.

There also would be new data security provisions to hold companies accountable if data is hacked or stolen.

OK, what happens now? To be sure, this agreement is a big step forward. But whether it has any legs in a deeply divided Congress — during a presidential election year, no less — is an open question.

CMR is retiring at the end of this Congress and has been aggressive in seeking some legislative wins. See the recent TikTok ban that passed the House.

In the Senate, the proposal could become a vehicle for the Kids Online Safety Act, a popular bill that’s among those Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering acting on before the end of the year.

However, it’s too early to tell whether the underlying proposal can pass both chambers. The House and Senate panels’ ranking members, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), weren’t closely involved in the effort. Cruz hasn’t said anything publicly about the proposal yet, while Pallone called it a “very strong discussion draft” but is recommending a number of changes.

But there are already concerns from the Big Tech companies, and that’s a problem for CMR and Cantwell.

We’re hearing complaints about a provision allowing individuals to “opt out” of targeted advertising. While popular, that’s not going to go over well with Google, Amazon, Meta or other big online companies.

Another potentially huge issue — allowing individuals to sue “bad actors” for misusing data.

Now, the major tech companies will likely be OK with a national standard on data privacy versus a plethora of different state standards. We’ve seen that play out in other industries.

It’s unclear which committee would go first on hearings or a markup. What is clear is that this will be a huge lobbying bonanza for K Street, where Big Tech spends money freely.

Remember what the Big Tech companies did to antitrust legislation in the last Congress. These proposals got big votes in both House and Senate committees and then died before reaching the floor in either chamber. As Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) would remind anyone, do not underestimate the power of Big Tech on Capitol Hill.

Also, that TikTok ban that passed by a big margin in the House last month — what happened to that? Is Cantwell going to move that controversial proposal, which she doesn’t yet support, and this one through her committee?

— Andrew Desiderio, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

Presented by Apollo

Apollo is helping to fuel the economy and promote resiliency in the financial system by originating investment-grade private credit. Learn how Apollo is helping the great American businesses of today become leaders of tomorrow.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.