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Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strongly advising citizens not to travel for Thanksgiving this year. As the amount of COVID-19 cases skyrocket across the country, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see the agency urge people to keep it light this year. It’s been hard to come by good news through all of this, but we managed to get a taste of it with recent reports of Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine both displaying promising results. For the first time in a while, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. 

Now onto the world of privacy.

The U.S. is still reeling from the results of the 2020 elections and following the passing of the California Privacy Rights Act, privacy professionals duly wondered what will happen next. The Brookings Institution looked at this topic, analyzing how the CPRA could impact a federal privacy law. Brookings’ Cameron Kerry and Caitlin Chin wrote a federal bill would likely have to surpass the CPRA’s new standards on accountability and requirements for businesses to protect personal information.

Proposed privacy laws from Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., may have surpassed the California Consumer Privacy Act, but Kerry and Chin argue it will be difficult for Congress to find the bills match up to the new law out of the Golden State. Of course, should a federal law address the private right of action and algorithmic discrimination, it could fill in the gaps the CPRA did not address.

It’s hard to say when we can expect the next big development in federal privacy legislation. It certainly won’t be before the Georgia runoff elections in January. It may also depend on the appetite of those on Capitol Hill. During last week’s IAB Policy Summit, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., who has been very active in this area, said her congressional colleagues lacked “urgency” in passing a national standard.

DelBene argued it’s important for lawmakers to make tangible efforts in order for a privacy law to become a reality, rather than continuing to refer to the abstract need for “privacy protections.” She also said the U.S. runs the risk of losing its standing on a global scale.

“If we don’t have domestic standards, how do we lead that conversation? We are basically letting others set that policy for us and create those international standards,” DelBene said.

While the pace may not be moving as fast as DelBene wants, it does seem as though it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” a federal law will be passed. We just might have to wait a little while longer.

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