Sens. Chuck Schumer and Maria Cantwell Concerns Weake Privacy Bill’s Momentum in the House

A federal privacy bill that has gained momentum in the House faces a tougher challenge in the Senate as Democratic leadership does not support bipartisan proposals.

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviewed U.S. data and privacy protection laws on Thursday, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee suggested lawmakers were wasting their time.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, did not approve the bill and said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer would not either.

“Chuck Schumer has said it’s impossible for them to bring the bill in the Senate so they can get back to the table on something strong,” Ms Cantwell told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The privacy bill unveiled this month has been years in the making, according to the bill’s author, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington; and Sen. Roger Wick, Republican of Mississippi. Mr. Pallone and Ms. Rodgers marked the privacy bill on Thursday on behalf of bipartisan leadership on House committees.

Ms Cantwell cited enforcement issues and concerns about privacy bills preying on states with weaker federal standards.

Mr. Pallone defended the bill’s provisions, writing in a memo ahead of Thursday’s review that the Federal Trade Commission is the regulatory agency responsible for enforcement. The bill would create a new FTC Privacy Bureau and be fully operational within a year of passage.

“This legislation provides three enforcement tools — the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and state privacy authorities, and private right of action,” Mr. Palon wrote in the memo. “The FTC may impose civil penalties for all violations of the Act. State attorneys general and privacy authorities may bring cases related to violations of the Act in federal court to seek injunctive relief; obtain damages, fines, restitution or other compensation; and obtain reasonable attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs.”

The proposal also targets algorithms that sort people’s data. The bill would require data holders to submit annual algorithmic impact assessments describing the algorithm’s design, the data used and steps to mitigate harm, Mr. Pallone wrote.

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