Congress Considers Bill to Strengthen Privacy Act

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) has introduced legislation to update the federal Privacy Act. The "Safeguarding Individual Privacy Against Government Invasion Act of 2014" would compensate individuals for non pecuniary harms after Privacy Act violations. The proposal is a response to FAA v. Cooper, a Supreme Court case holding that the Privacy Act does not cover mental and emotional damages. EPIC filed a "friend of the court" brief in that case, explaining that privacy laws routinely provide recovery for mental and emotional harm, that such damages are the most common consequence of privacy violations, and that civil remedies are necessary to ensure enforcement of the Privacy Act. Following the decision in FAA v. Cooper, EPIC set out proposals to strengthen the Privacy Act. EPIC has recently recommended that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board prioritize Privacy Act enforcement. For more information, see EPIC: FAA v. Cooper, EPIC: Doe v. Chao, and EPIC: The Privacy Act of 1974.


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