Senators to Introduce COVID-19 Data Protection Bill

May 1, 2020

A group of four senators has announced plans to introduce the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act, a bill which would regulate businesses’ collection and use of personal health and location data in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would require companies to obtain “affirmative express consent” before collecting personal data, to disclose details about how personal data will be used, to satisfy data minimization and security requirements, and to allow consumers to opt out. Businesses would also be required to “delete or de-identify all personally identifiable information” when it is no longer needed for the COVID-19 crisis. The bill—sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker, John Thune, Jerry Moran, and Marsha Blackburn—charges the Federal Trade Commission with enforcement. EPIC recently told Congress that “privacy and public health are complimentary goals” and that "Privacy Enhancing Techniques can be deployed to serve the public interest and protect individuals." EPIC’s report Grading on a Curve: Privacy Legislation in the 116th Congress sets out the key elements of a modern privacy law, including the creation of a Data Protection Agency and room for states to enact stronger privacy laws.

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