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American Data Dissemination Act seeks to legislate how the tech industry uses your data

Senator Marco Rubio has announced the American Data Dissemination Act, a data privacy bill that aims to shore up existing privacy laws and establish a minimum standard for tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook to obey.

Capitol Hill building



Under the proposal, the FTC would be ordered to examine and suggest what privacy rules should be put in place for major commercial services, including technology companies. The proposal is based on principles from a 1974 law that created rules for federal agencies.

As part of its new scheme, Axios reports the FTC would also be required to find ways to exempt smaller companies from being impacted from the rules.

Importantly, if Congress fails to successfully pass a law within two years of the bill being brought into effect, it would grant the FTC the authority to produce new rules along the lines of its own recommendations. Under current laws, the FTC is capable of enforcing rules, usually by taking parties to court or penalizing organizations, but cannot produce the rules itself.

The rules created under the bill would also preempt privacy rules at a state level, meaning that tougher state laws may be superseded by weaker national versions in some instances. According to an aide of Rubio, this was added to fulfill a request from industry groups who wish to avoid a "patchwork" of rules that vary from state to state.

One of the industry groups is the Information Technology Industry Council, which counts Apple alongside Amazon, Facebook, Google, Intel, and Microsoft among its members.

"It is crucial that we do not create a regulatory environment that entrenches big tech corporations," states Rubio. "Congress must act, but it is even more important that Congress act responsibly to create a transparent, digital environment that maximizes consumer welfare over corporate welfare."

The bill is launching without any co-sponsors.

Rubio's bill is only one of a number of attempts by senators to try and improve data privacy legislation. In November, it was revealed a pair of senators were working on a bipartisan bill that could be drafted by early 2019, which would mandate the protection of consumer data.