Bennet Reintroduces Legislation to Protect Americans’ Personal Data Online

Data Care Act Will Stop Websites, Apps From Using Personal Data To Harm Users, Protect User Information From Hacks, Hold Companies Accountable For Misuse

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) alongside 18 of their Senate colleagues in reintroducing legislation to protect Americans’ 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.

“Millions of Americans have surrendered an endless feed of their personal data to a few Big Tech companies for access to their platforms – and most have made that trade without even really knowing it,” said Bennet. “This bill will establish common sense rules to protect Americans’ data in the digital age.”

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. 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. 

Specifically, this bill establishes:

  • 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; and
  • Rulemaking Authority – FTC is granted rulemaking authority to implement the Act.

Bennet has strongly advocated to protect Americans’ data in the digital age. Last week, Bennet introduced the RESTRICT Act to address the threat from technologies linked to foreign adversaries that harness American data. Last year, Bennet introduced first-of-its-kind legislation to create a Federal Digital Platform Commission, an expert federal body empowered to provide comprehensive, sector-specific oversight of digital platforms to protect consumers, promote competition, and defend the public interest. 

In addition to Bennet and Schatz, this bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Angus King (I-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The text of the bill is available HERE.