House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents California’s 23rd district, which includes portions of Lancaster and other Antelope Valley areas, is using his high-level position to back national legislation to safeguard consumers’ data privacy.
His declaration of support in Congress for tackling how technology companies amass and use that information provides a strong impetus to the legislative efforts to make the law national, rather than let each state mix and mismatch privacy controls.
Lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate have been working on many bills aimed at strengthening individuals’ ability to control their data collected by the biggest technology companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc.
With the worldwide complexity of cyber technology, privacy has become dangerously threatened.
It’s not clear yet which, if any, legislation could secure enough support for establishing stronger privacy guidelines.
But comments from McCarthy and others indicated that there is significant bipartisan support for establishing stronger privacy guidelines.
The Wall Street Journal, in its Friday edition, quoted McCarthy in regard to his position: “There needs to be a national-level regulation, not state-by-state on what we’re going to do about privacy,” the minority leader said. “We should know what data you keep on us. We should be able to take our data and be able to delete our data.”
He plans to introduce legislation that would ensure that people know what data companies are tracking and allow them to transfer or delete that data.
A California data privacy law passed in 2018 helped spur action from McCarthy and a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on privacy legislation in the Senate.
Many view our state’s law, set to take effect in January 2020, as the strictest consumer privacy legislation in the United States.
“If California goes into effect and then every other state’s doing one, we’re going to disrupt whatever growth we can have within technology and innovation,” McCarthy said.
California’s law is somewhat similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which took effect last year. One difference is that the California measure includes more provisions allowing consumers to opt out of data sharing as opposed to forcing them to opt in before continuing to use online sites.
Passage of the California law helped spur the formation in the U.S. Senate of a group last year that is drafting what its members hope will be landmark data-privacy legislation.
Technology firms have warmed to a national privacy law as the implementation of the California law approaches, hoping a federal rule would be less stringent and provide a sole set of guidelines.
Supporters of big tech companies have warned against regulation that could threaten competition. Some Democrats have called for taking more forceful action to limit the power of the biggest technology companies.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who is running for president, called in March for breaking up some companies, including Amazon.com Inc., Google and Facebook, saying they have too much power over the economy, and urged regulation of Google and Facebook as utilities.
McCarthy said he disagreed with the idea of breaking up big tech companies.
“If you break up a company, it does nothing about privacy,” he said. “That’s going to take away innovation.”