Today, at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the committee, continued her fight for consumers as Congress considers federal data privacy legislation.
“When the dust settles after a data breach or a misuse of data, consumers are the ones who are left harmed or disillusioned,” said Cantwell.
Cantwell highlighted the onslaught of data breaches consumers have faced, including a recent data breach that left unprotected the addresses, full names, dates of birth, income, and marital status of more than 80 million US households.
“Consumers continue to be bombarded by threats to their privacy. Cybersecurity adversaries become more sophisticated and more organized day by day, and we really need to understand privacy on a continuum of data security. We need to take a more proactive approach to cybersecurity and make sure that we are continuing to protect consumers.”
Some reports have estimated that more than 1,200 data breaches exposed over 446.5 million records in the United States in 2018. Worldwide, data breaches compromised more than 4.5 billion data records in the first half of 2018 alone. And this year, the largest ever single public data breach by volume was discovered – it exposed more than 772 million unique emails and more than 21 million unique passwords.
In light of these ever-increasing cyber threats, transparency, consent and plain-language notices are simply not enough, Cantwell said in her remarks, while pushing for a greater focus on protection of people’s personal data.
“While the benefits of the online world are everywhere…so must be protections of personal information that is more than just a commodity. We need to make sure that the culture of monetizing our personal data at every twist and turn is countered with the protection of people’s personal data.”
At the first Commerce Committee hearing on privacy in the 116th Congress, Cantwell criticized efforts to pre-empt laws from states like California, which has adopted its own privacy protections, in any federal legislation that Congress may consider.
Senator Cantwell has long advocated for more stringent protections for the privacy of American consumers, including when she questioned the CEO of Equifax on data breaches, when she questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and when she urged President Trump to veto a resolution passed by Congress to undo consumer privacy regulations adopted by the FCC.