Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA03)– a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, which has recently generated a number of bills aimed at reining in the tech platforms– today joined Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) to propose the Data Elimination and Limiting Extensive Tracking and Exchange (DELETE) Act.
In a press release, the lawmakers say “The bipartisan legislation would create a system for individuals to request all data brokers, companies that collect personal data for commercial use, delete any personal data the broker may have collected and to not collect it in the future.”DELETE-ACt
The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create regulations requiring “data brokers”– defined as “an entity that knowingly collects or obtains the personal information of an individual with whom the entity does not have a direct relationship,” using the information to perform a service or to sell or otherwise provide to another party for compensation– to register with the Commission. It requires brokers to detail mechanisms by which users may opt-out of data collection, what types of data they collect, the sources of the data they collect, details about any credentialing process the broker employs, etc.
It would require the establishment of a “Centralized Data Deletion System” that would allow individuals to request the deletion of data across the data brokers linked in the system. The system would “allow an individual to request the deletion of all personal information related to such individual through a single deletion request.” Requests would be free an accessible through a website maintained by the FTC.
The proposed legislation would also create a “Do Not Track List” that would limit any registered data broker from collecting information on individuals that submitted a deletion request, unless the individual consented to have their information collected.
The legislation would help pay for the system by assessing an annual fee on data brokers to provide them subscription “access to the database.”
“Americans across the political spectrum agree that online companies have nearly total control of the data collected on them, and they’re right,” said Rep. Trahan in a press release. “Once our phone number, web history, or even social security number gets added to a data broker’s list, it becomes nearly impossible to get it removed. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan DELETE Act to return power back to consumers by giving each of us the right to have sensitive personal information removed from these lists.”
“People expect privacy and their personal information to be protected,” said Senator Cassidy, while Senator Ossoff said that the “bipartisan bill is about returning control of our personal data to us, the American people.”
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.