Consumer Watchdog Backs Consumer Privacy Protection Act Introduced By Rep. Cicilline

SANTA MONICA, CA. – Consumer Watchdog strongly supports the Consumer Privacy Protection Act introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-RI, and co-sponsored by eleven other Democrats.

“This is a strong bill that provides important protections for consumers’ data,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “Importantly it sets a strong federal baseline and pre-empts only weaker state laws. It leaves stronger state laws in place.”

The House measure is a companion bill to one introduced in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy, VT, and five other Democratic Senators. Consumer Watchdog noted that 47 states already have breach notification laws, adding that it is essential that federal legislation not undermine those protections.

Key provisions in the Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2015 include:

— Requiring companies who store sensitive personal or financial information on 10,000 customers or more to meet consumer privacy and data security standards to keep this information safe, and notify the customer within 30 days of a breach.

— Establishing a broad definition of information that must be protected, including social security numbers; financial account information; online usernames and passwords; unique biometric data, including fingerprints; information about a person’s physical and mental health; information about a person’s geo-location; and access to private digital photographs and videos.

— Requiring companies to inform federal law enforcement of all large breaches, as well as breaches that involved federal government databases or law enforcement or national security personnel.

— Guaranteeing a federal baseline of strong consumer privacy protections for all Americans by preempting weaker state laws, while leaving stronger state laws in place.

Other representatives co-sponsoring Cicilline’s House bill are: John Conyers, MI: Judy Chu, CA; Sheila Jackson Lee, TX; Hank Johnson, GA; Michael Capuano, MA; Mark Takano, CA; John Garamendi, CA; Alan Grayson, FL; Andre Carson, IN; Mark DeSaulnier, CA; and Jerrold Nadler, NY.

In addition to Leahy the Senate bill is cosponsored by Democratic Senators Al Franken, MN; Elizabeth Warren, MA; Richard Blumenthal, CT; Ron Wyden, OR; and Edward J. Markey, MA.

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Published by John M. Simpson

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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