The Data Protection Act of 2020 is the most recent federal bill concerning issues of personal data privacy and security. Introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, this bill establishes an independent federal Data Protection Agency, which will have the power to regulate the processing of personal data through defined “Federal Privacy Laws.”
Like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this bill recognizes that “privacy is an important fundamental individual right,” which is “directly affected by the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal data.” Furthermore, the bill states that the unrestricted collection, disclosure, processing, and misuse of personal data endanger the “opportunities for an individual to secure employment, insurance, credit, and housing, and the right to due process and other legal protections.”
Additionally, the bill notes that “in order to protect the privacy of the individuals, it is necessary and proper for Congress to regulate the collection, maintenance, use, processing, storage, and dissemination of information.” The bill aims to accomplish these goals through the establishment of and granting specific powers to the independent federal Data Protection Agency.
These specific powers include the ability of the Agency to commence a civil action against a “covered entity” who violates a defined “Federal privacy law,” and to seek relief such as civil monetary penalties or equitable remedies, including injunctive relief for such violations. Civil monetary penalties for knowingly violating a Federal privacy law can be as high as $1 million for each day the violation continues. The money collected from successful enforcements by the Agency will be deposited into a “Relief Fund,” and made available to compensate those “affected by an act or practice for which civil penalties have been obtained.”
This legislation would not establish a comprehensive federal data privacy law in the same vein as GDPR or California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). However, the Data Protection Agency created by this bill could exist in tandem with, and enforce such a law.
The chances of this bill becoming law this year are likely low, due to the fact that this is a presidential election year.
To learn more about the Data Protection Act of 2020, click here.