U.S. Senate Announces Introduction of COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act

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On April 30, 2020, U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, John Thune (R-SD) chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, Jerry Moran (R-KS), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN),  announced plans to introduce the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act.  The legislation would provide all Americans with more transparency, choice, and control over the collection and use of their personal health, geolocation, and proximity data. The bill would also hold businesses accountable to consumers if they use personal data to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act would:

  • Require companies under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission to obtain affirmative express consent from individuals to collect, process, or transfer their personal health, geolocation, or proximity information for the purposes of tracking the spread of COVID-19.
  • Direct companies to disclose to consumers at the point of collection how their data will be handled, to whom it will be transferred, and how long it will be retained.
  • Establish clear definitions about what constitutes aggregate and de-identified data to ensure companies adopt certain technical and legal safeguards to protect consumer data from being re-identified.
  • Require companies to allow individuals to opt out of the collection, processing, or transfer of their personal health, geolocation, or proximity information.
  • Direct companies to provide transparency reports to the public describing their data collection activities related to COVID-19.
  • Establish data minimization and data security requirements for any personally identifiable information collected by a covered entity.
  • Require companies to delete or de-identify all personally identifiable information when it is no longer being used for the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Authorize state attorneys general to enforce the Act.

To view the Senate committee’s press release, click here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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