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At Bloomberg’s “Sooner Than You Think” conference in New York City, Internet Association (IA) President and CEO Michael Beckerman participated in a panel titled “The Role of Government in Data Privacy.” Beckerman joined moderator Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer and former FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn of MLC Strategies, LLC to talk about the future of data privacy regulation. 

The panel began with Newcomer asking Beckerman and Clyburn what a U.S. privacy law should look like. Beckerman emphasized that consumers should have control over their data and they shouldn’t be surprised by how it is being used on or offline. He also noted that we need a comprehensive federal privacy law, rather than a patchwork of state laws, in order to ensure consumers and businesses can truly understand how their data is being used and protected. 

The key here is that people should have control over their data and not be surprised by how it’s being used or who’s using it, on or offline. It’s really important people have the control back.

Michael Beckerman

The conversation then shifted to privacy legislation in Europe. Both Beckerman and Clyburn noted that we should not necessarily follow the European model. Beckerman pointed out that we want to create an environment in which U.S. companies can innovate and startups can grow, and therefore we should create our own privacy law rather than following in the footsteps of European lawmakers.

We need a U.S. approach and something that’s going to be state-of-the-art, and other places can look to us for leadership.

Michael Beckerman

Finally, the panelists discussed a privacy law recently passed in California. Beckerman emphasized that this state-by-state approach will hurt consumers and businesses alike. He noted that this patchwork approach hurts smaller companies in particular because they may not be able to hire the compliance lawyers that a larger company would be able to bring on. He also highlighted that the California law has brought more uncertainty regarding privacy rules, causing confusion among businesses and consumers. 

The fact that in November 2020 there will already be a ballot initiative to preempt the law that will go into place at the beginning of 2020 shows the need for a federal law and to not allow this patchwork of laws to let states decide what they want to do every two years.

Michael Beckerman

Beckerman concluded his remarks by emphasizing that we need a federal privacy law that Americans can truly understand, and that applies the same standards on and offline. 

  • Want to read more about “The Role of Government in Data Privacy”? Check out Bloomberg’s blog on the event.
  • Read Beckerman’s recent New York Times op-ed on privacy here.
  • Learn more about IA’s efforts in advancing comprehensive federal privacy legislation here.