Marco Rubio Introduces Privacy Bill to Create Federal Regulations on Data Collection

January 16, 2019, 7:15 PM UTC

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at creating federal standards of privacy protection for major internet companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

The bill, titled the American Data Dissemination Act, requires the Federal Trade Commission to make suggestions for regulation based on the Privacy Act of 1974. Congress would then have to pass legislation within two years, or the FTC will gain the power to write the rules itself (under current laws, the FTC can only enforce existing rules).

While Rubio’s bill is intended to reign in the data collection and dissemination of companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix, it also requires any final legislation to protect small businesses from being stifled by new rules.

“While we may have disagreements on the best path forward, no one believes a privacy law that only bolsters the largest companies with the resources to comply and stifles our start-up marketplace is the right approach,” Rubio wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, announcing his bill.

The caveat comes when one considers states’ rights to create their own privacy laws. Under Rubio’s legislation, any national regulations would preempt state laws—even if the state’s are more strict.

According to Rubio, “a state-by-state patchwork of laws is simply not an effective means of dealing with an issue of this magnitude.” This is a sentiment echoed by the major internet companies, who argue navigating widespread federal regulation is simpler than potentially managing dozens of different laws.

Democrats have said they would only support federal regulation if it can hold a candle to state laws like those expected to go into effect in California in 2020.

According to Axios, other privacy proposals are expected, including one from a bipartisan group of senators. Rubio’s bill reportedly has no co-sponsors at this time.