Cantwell Calls for Comprehensive Privacy Protections for American Consumers; Transparency, Consent Alone Not Enough

Senator criticizes efforts to pre-empt state privacy laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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, called for Congress to pass comprehensive federal legislation to protect the privacy and data of American consumers.

“Over the last several years, we have seen a barrage of consumer privacy and security violations, and consumers are on the receiving end of these reckless practices,” Senator Cantwell said. “The information age is still unfolding, and we will face many challenges. It's time for Congress to deliver meaningful privacy and security protections for the American public… I believe that just notice and consent are no longer enough. I don’t think that transparency is the only solution.”

In her remarks before the committee, Cantwell noted that American consumers still face privacy challenges from a range of different online practices.

“Consumers continue to see the challenges that they face with corporate practices that allow for collection, storage, analyzing, and monetizing their personal information,” Cantwell continued. “I hope we kick off a very substantive discussion to explore how we go about changing this mindset that treats personal information as a commodity for profit.”

Cantwell also criticized efforts to pre-empt laws from states like Washington, which is considering adopting its own privacy protections, in any federal legislation that Congress may consider.

“I find this effort somewhat disturbing, that as our country is grappling with all the privacy violations we’ve seen, the first thing people want to organize is a preemption effort,” Cantwell said.

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.

Here is VIDEO and AUDIO from Senator Cantwell’s opening statement at today’s hearing.

Here is VIDEO and AUDIO from Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with the witnesses at the hearing.