Congress showed interest in the American Data Privacy and Protection Act last week, and California has sent another letter urging lawmakers to strike state preemption.
With Congress still showing interest in a federal data privacy law, there are renewed calls to remove a preemption clause that would stop California from enforcing its own strong protections already on the books.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee convened to discuss the American Data and Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA) last week, though no vote took place. The discussion included the issue of preemption and state enforcement of the law, but members were split on how they came down on the issues. Some felt preemption was essential to the law’s uniformity, while others believed they would water down the privacy rights of over 20 states that are considering their own proposals.
During its March 3 hearing, the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) raised the issue again, and pointed to a recent letter co-signed by Governor Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonata and CPPA Executive Director Ashkan Soltani urging the House Energy and Commerce Committee to strike preemptive language from the ADPPA, the federal law aimed at giving consumers data privacy protections.
However, the ADPPA weakens, not strengthens, privacy protections for California and other states due to its broad preemption language.
The ADPPA would exempt companies that provide data to government agencies, leave the law vulnerable to weakening by industry lobbyists, and quickly cancel years of progress in California. Meanwhile, California’s own version for data privacy, the recently amended California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), can only be amended by the legislature in a way that benefits consumer privacy, or with voter support.
The letter pointed out how just recently California passed new children’s privacy, known as the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, and reproductive privacy legislation to existing laws.
“But if ADPPA is adopted in its current form, not only could existing privacy protections be weakened, but it could prevent California legislators, and Californians through the ballot initiative, from passing new protections to address changes in technology,” said Soltani. “We urge federal legislators to ensure that any federal privacy law allows states to continue to innovate on privacy.”
Last year, Consumer Watchdog and other privacy groups wrote a letter to then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging her to oppose the ADPPA. She ultimately came out against the bill.
In related privacy developments, a series of amendments were made to the Republican-drafted “Data Privacy Act of 2023” currently before the House Financial Services Committee. Democrat Maxine Waters offered an amendment to strike the bill’s preemption section, which would restore the federal floor for privacy laws that allow states to pass stronger consumer protections and adjust to evolving technologies for financial data privacy in place with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.