OTI and Coalition Oppose the SAFE DATA Act

Press Release
Sept. 22, 2020

Today, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) led a coalition of 20 civil society organizations in sending a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to oppose the Setting an American Framework to Ensure Data Access, Transparency, and Accountability Act (SAFE DATA Act). The bill was introduced by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Committee, John Thune (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). The coalition sent the letter in advance of the Committee’s hearing tomorrow entitled, “Revisiting the Need for Federal Privacy Legislation.”

The coalition strongly advised the Committee that the SAFE DATA Act would not protect consumer privacy and fails to satisfy the public interest principles for privacy legislation, which outline four concepts that any meaningful data protection legislation should incorporate at a minimum. The bill lacks adequate corporate obligations and user rights, does not protect civil rights online, preempts stronger state privacy laws, and would not provide strong redress for privacy harms.

The bill is largely based on the “notice and consent” model, which only requires that companies be relatively transparent about how they use personal data and does not place limits on data collection and use. OTI believes that a “notice and consent” framework fails to protect user privacy.

The following quote can be attributed to Christine Bannan, policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“As Congress revisits the need for federal privacy legislation, members should reject legislative proposals that fail to meaningfully curtail invasive online tracking and data-driven discrimination. The SAFE DATA Act would cement the flawed “notice and consent” model that places the burden of protecting privacy on individual users rather than the companies that exploit personal data.”

Related Topics
Platform Accountability Data Privacy