SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Senators reintroduce bill to protect personal data online

The Data Care Act could prevent misuse of sensitive info — if it survives Congress.

Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS

Senators aren't giving up on a bill to safeguard your online data. Hawaii's Brian Schatz and 18 other senators have reintroduced the 2018-era Data Care Act to set higher standards for sensitive info. Companies will need to "reasonably secure" identifying data, including prompt customer notifications for breaches. They also can't use that data in harmful ways, and must ensure third-parties treat any shared data with the same amount of respect.

The measure gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to fine companies that violate the rules, including third parties. States could take their own civil actions, but the FTC could step in.

The senators largely consist of Democrats, including Big Tech critics like Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King also back the potential legislation. The original Data Care Act had the support of 15 Democrats.

There's no guarantee the revived Act will succeed. The original bill never came to a vote after its December 2018 introduction. And while Democrats control the Senate in 2023, the Republicans lead the House. If a vote on an equivalent bill is split along partisan lines in the House, it won't reach the President's desk for approval.

The conditions may be more favorable this time around, however. President Biden has been eager to rein in Big Tech, with a particular focus on limiting the collection and use of data. Meanwhile, both major parties in Congress are increasingly concerned about data privacy and security. The Data Care Act theoretically satisfies these politicians, if just by shifting more of the responsibility to businesses.