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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP, March 15, 2019 Related reading: A new global guide for implementing the CCPA

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Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

IAPP headquarters was quieter than usual this week as many staffers have been in London organizing and attending the Data Protection Intensive: UK 2019. All reports are that it was a rousing success and that something called “Brexit” came up once or twice.

This side of the pond, Facebook remained in the headlines as The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the company’s data-sharing agreements with more than 150 companies. The report follows last week’s announcement of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new “privacy-focused vision for social networking.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., had a busy week. On Tuesday, he introduced a bill to update and amend the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. The bill provides parents a service-specific “eraser button” for their children’s data and extends COPPA’s protections for children through age 15, from its current cutoff at age 13. Notably, this fills the gap that exists between COPPA’s protections and the California Consumer Privacy Act’s protections, which treat children age 16 and older as adults with regard to their ability to consent to the sale of their personal information.

Later that same day, Markey and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, released a joint statement calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “pause” the planned implementation of facial-recognition technology at the 20 busiest airports in the country by 2021. The senators cited a statutory requirement for DHS “to submit a report to Congress detailing the viability of biometric technologies, including privacy implications and accuracy.” They called on the department to “pause their efforts until American travelers fully understand exactly who has access to their facial recognition data ... [and] how it will be safeguarded.”

The IAPP’s Angelique Carson continued her exploits in Washington, covering the suddenly active privacy-relevant committee-hearings scene. This week she sat in on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s hearing, titled, “GDPR & CCPA: Opt-ins, Consumer Control, and the Impact on Competition and Innovation.” Senators were keen to understand the ins-and-outs (pun intended) of users’ consent to tracking their online activity. Panelist Will DeVries, senior privacy counsel for Google, answered questions about the role of tracking in Google’s business model and its “necess[ity]” for the functionality of its consumer products. Search engine DuckDuckGo’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, highlighted his company’s success as evidence that privacy can be a net win for businesses. Preemption, state privacy laws — including the CCPA — and an innovation-friendly environment were also topics of interest.

The hearing was a continuation of the increased focus privacy is receiving from policymakers at the federal and state level.

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