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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP, August 31, 2018 Related reading: The Privacy Advisor's top 10 news stories of 2018

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Greetings from Gray, Maine!

To use an analogy that draws upon my love of fantasy, it would seem that Alastair Mactaggart has knocked the skull of a dwarf down a well in the Chamber of Mazarbul and the drums are sounding to announce the coming swarm of federal privacy legislation. 

Of course, that only happens in the movie adaptation of "The Fellowship of the Ring." And maybe an online privacy bill won't be so orc-like. And, hey, the Fellowship does, in the end, get that ring to Mount Doom, so the big fight didn't totally derail things. Except for Gandalf, who wound up dead — but only for a little while!

Also: Does this analogy make Sen. Ed Markey the Balrog? 

Regardless, there's no way you can miss those booming drums. They are echoing throughout the U.S. in a way they definitely were not during the Obama administration. While the Privacy Bill of Rights was circulated widely and the idea of sweeping federal legislation got some attention after President Obama visited the FTC and mentioned privacy in his State of the Union Address, I can tell you that virtually no one thought those bills were going to pass. 

Mostly that was because the Republican Congress at the time just wasn't doing much to help Obama get anything done, but it was also because there really wasn't much urgency. The FTC was handling it. We had a bunch of privacy laws already. Do consumers really care? Pfft. 

Now Mactaggart and the CCPA have provided the urgency. No one working at a company handling personal data wants to see consumer privacy legislation play out in the U.S. the way data breach legislation did. Fifty laws? All slightly different? And where is that person right now, and where do they live, and how do we know, and did they move? That's a disaster, and probably for consumers, too, who may find themselves in the shoes of Europeans who can't read American publications anymore because their legal teams decided the GDPR was too much of a hassle to figure out and the European traffic didn't matter. 

So, it's coming. And we'll soon find out whether Mactaggart was, indeed, a fool of a Took, or whether that tortured analogy falls apart entirely. 

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