WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today convened the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for a hearing titled, “Consumer Perspectives: Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework.” During the hearing, committee members heard from experts about data privacy rights, controls, and protections that should be available to consumers and enshrined into law in the United States. The panel discussed consumers’ expectations for data privacy in the Digital Age and how those expectations may vary based on the type of information collected and processed by businesses. In addition, the hearing examined how to provide consumers with meaningful tools and resources to make more informed privacy decisions about the products and services they use both online and offline.
Excerpt from Chairman Wicker’s opening statement, as delivered, below:
Consumers are the bedrock of our economy. Through the consumption of goods and services, consumers drive economic activity; power job creation; and create opportunities for innovation, and economic advancement in the United States and around the world.
To foster relationships with consumers, businesses have historically collected and used information about their patrons. The collection of data about consumers’ likes, dislikes, and commercial interests has ultimately served to benefit consumers in the form of more customized products and services, and more choices at reduced costs.
Consumer data has tremendous societal benefits as well. In a world of “big data” where physical objects and processes are digitized, there is an increased volume of consumer data flowing throughout the economy. This data is advancing entire economic sectors, such as health care, transportation, and manufacturing. Data enables these sectors to improve their operations, target resources and services to underserved populations, and increase their competitiveness.
The consumer benefits of a data-driven economy are undeniable. These benefits are what fuel the vibrancy and dynamism of today’s Internet marketplace. Despite these benefits, however, near-daily reports of data breaches and data misuse underscore how privacy risks within the data-driven economy can no longer be ignored.
The increased prevalence of privacy violations threatens to undermine consumers’ trust in the Internet marketplace. This could reduce consumer engagement and jeopardize the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the digital economy.
Consumer trust is essential. To maintain trust, a strong, uniform federal data privacy framework should adequately protect consumer data from misuse and other unwanted data collection and processing. When engaging in commerce, consumers should rightly expect that their data will be protected.
So today, I hope witnesses will address how a federal privacy law should provide consumers with more transparency, choice, and control over their information to prevent harmful data practices that reduce consumer confidence and stifle economic engagement.