These days, public displays of bipartisanship are a rare sight. And after a contentious election season, they are as rare as a glimmer of a comet in the sky — sorry, Taylor Swift. Much like the return of Halley's Comet, cross-aisle cooperation is always worth getting up early to witness.
So, it was hard not to be starry-eyed this week watching the outgoing and incoming chairs of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee sit together for a joint interview with ABC News Live. The subject of the interview was, of course, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., sat comfortably side-by-side, extolling the virtues of the bill they crafted in coordination with Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Though the E&C committee sent the ADPPA to the full House of Representatives in July, no further measurable progress has been made to pass the compromise bill. Even as enthusiasm among ADPPA's most optimistic supporters remains high, its prospects are limited this late in the term. Barring miraculous inclusion in a must-pass spending measure, the highest possible outcome for the bill this year is symbolic passage in the House.
There appears to have been a coordinated effort underway this week to accomplish that limited goal, which the bill's supporters believe will put them on stronger footing for 2023. In addition to the ABC segment, the Washington Post editorial board endorsed the ADPPA, calling on Congress to "recognize what is sitting in its lap: a carefully crafted, comprehensive framework to protect data privacy rights." To cap off the efforts, today, a group of civil society groups is sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calling on her to advance the ADPPA to a vote by the full House "before the end of the 117th Congress."
Even so, the more achievable target of all this activity is momentum for further progress in the 118th Congress. The unity on display among the two E&C leaders as they prepare to swap roles in 2023 seems carefully crafted to send a single message: the change of party control will not upset the compromise that was reached in crafting ADPPA.
With that in mind, the optics of the ABC interview were more important than its substance. But I can't help but wonder if the segment's focus on youth privacy, a subject that is also front-and-center in the civil society letter, isn't meant for another audience: Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, who has prioritized the Senate Commerce Committee's attention on youth privacy and safety bills in lieu of comprehensive consumer privacy bills this term, due to her unaddressed concerns about ADPPA's limitations.
Although enhanced protections for youth have been part of the ADPPA from the get-go — including a ban on targeted advertising, strict limits on the collection of sensitive data and a new Federal Trade Commission division — prior advocacy about the bill has not tended to lead with the "protect the children" narrative. Though this focus may be a side effect of the tendency in Washington for advocates to go where the wind blows, it is worth noting that a few of the same civil society groups supporting passage of ADPPA also signed on to last week's letter opposing the Senate's proposed Kids Online Safety Act.
As both chambers ramp up for their final important business before the holidays, the chance of seeing progress on any of these measures may be just a glimmer, but even a small spark can start a fire.
Here's what else I'm thinking about:
- Kochava responded to the FTC's lawsuit, as the back and forth between the two parties continues. In a new motion to dismiss the FTC's counter-suit against the data broker, Kochava makes a variety of legal arguments, including relying on a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit case analyzing the Video Privacy Protection Act, which it argues implies that identifiability is linked to what an "ordinary person" could do with collected personal data types.
- Reading the tea leaves for U.S. state privacy laws in 2023. Although he lives up to his promise of offering zero "predictions" for what to expect next year on the state privacy front, Future of Privacy Forum's Keir Lamont, CIPP/US, is still worth reading as he tracks "five big questions."
- Your privacy is worth $2, at least when it comes to verification. Amazon introduced a new advertisement verification program that will pay enrolled participants for sharing web browsing data with the company in exchange for a monthly $2 payment.
- Dec. 12 at 9:30 a.m. EST, Politico and CIPL host EU-U.S. data flows deal: game changer or more legal uncertainty? (virtual)
- Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. EST, the D.C. KnowledgeNet chapter co-hosts Looking Back on Data Transfer Developments in Asia: Changes in 2022 (virtual).
- Dec. 14 and 15, WireWheel hosts its seasonal virtual SPOKES conference.
- Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. EST, Tech Policy Happy Hour (Lulu's Winegarden).
- Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. EST, the D.C. KnowledgeNet chapter co-hosts a happy hour sponsored by Palo Alto Networks (Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar)
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