Originally Appeared: Real Clear Policy on June 4, 2020
Protecting Americans’ data privacy has never been more important. Millions of Americans are relying on internet services to purchase basic household items, do their jobs, and stay connected with family and friends during the COVID-19 crisis. But even before the pandemic, brick and mortar stores, and main street businesses were collecting and using consumer data to increase sales and manage inventory, and they are increasingly relying on online tools to grow their businesses and deliver products to customers. This increased reliance on online services creates opportunities for people to remain connected with what’s important to them but also underscores the critical need for a federal privacy law that protects all Americans’ data equally.
State legislatures throughout the country have been busy examining, and in some cases passing, data privacy reforms. However, as we’ve seen with the wide variety of state orders regarding social distancing during the ongoing pandemic, this disparate approach can create a muddled situation that threatens to deepen — rather than ameliorate — the problem.
Commerce does not stop at state lines and neither should American’s privacy protections. That’s why the only viable, long-term solution is an economy-wide, federal law that requires companies in all industries to maintain transparent privacy practices, and puts consumers in control of the data they choose to share.