Cantwell Stresses Importance of Digital Trade Economy, Calls for Bipartisan Privacy Legislation to Protect Consumers

Cantwell: “If we fail to increase our cooperation on digital issues, our economy will suffer the consequences.”

December 9, 2020

TV Quality Video | Audio | Transcripts

WASHINGTON, D.C. –At today’s Senate Commerce hearing on the invalidation of the EU-US privacy shield, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the committee, highlighted the importance of digital trade and called for a new agreement between the United States and Europe to address transatlantic data flow, saying this “must be a top priority [for] the Biden Administration.” Digital trade between the US and EU is worth more than $300 billion annually, including more than $218 billion in US exports to Europe.

“We need to start by coming together on protecting data but we also must increase bilateral cooperation on a broad digital agenda: 5G, 6G, a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity disinformation standards,” Ranking Member Cantwell said. “If we fail to increase our cooperation on digital issues, our economy will suffer the consequences. The flow of data between the United States and Europe is especially critical to 5,000 plus tech companies in the state of Washington, which generate more than 2.8 billion in digital export. So, equally important here today are the privacy issues that we are still working on as a committee.

Cantwell also stressed that the United States and Europe must continue to work together to protect consumers: “We don't want consumers left behind. We want them to have control over their personal privacy data. We want, at the state and federal level, to make sure that we have the right safeguards in place for consumers, so I guarantee you the United States and European citizenry are on the same page.”

“In all, more than 1 trillion in US-European trade is at risk. With the invalidation of the Privacy Shield agreement, we now have lost the most straightforward legal tool for transferring data from the EU to the US, and this is a particular problem for small and medium sized businesses. It also puts some of our largest and more sophisticated companies at a disadvantage and casts doubt on the protection of their digital services and what they provide.”

Ranking Member Cantwell has long been a leading advocate for online data privacy. In November of 2019 she unveiled the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act, comprehensive federal online privacy legislation to establish privacy rights, outlaw harmful and deceptive practices, and improve data security safeguards for American consumers. She has repeatedly called for comprehensive privacy protections. She has also championed the importance of investing in cybersecurity measures throughout the U.S. economy and pushed federal agencies like the FTC to take a more robust role in protecting Americans from privacy threats.

Video of Cantwell’s opening statement from today’s hearing is available HERE and audio is available HERE.