Senators resurrect and rework 2019 privacy bill in new bipartisan effort

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A 2019 bill to require technology companies to allow users to opt out of tracking has been reintroduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar with new bipartisan backing.

Senator Amy Klobuchar — who as chair of an antitrust committee recently described the release of AirTags as "timely" — is reintroducing a privacy bill. It's predominantly the same as her 2019 proposal for a "Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act," but comes against a much changed political and technological environment.

According to The Verge, the bill would now force websites to grant greater control to users over their own data. The 2019 bill, introduced in the light of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, failed through lack of support from the Republican party.

Now with Democrats controlling Congress, it's been able to be reworked. This new reworking also comes with support from many senators, Republican and Democrat, including Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

"For too long companies have profited off of Americans' online data while consumers have been left in the dark," said Klobuchar in a statement to The Verge. "This legislation will protect and empower consumers by allowing them to make choices about how companies use their data and inform them of how they can protect personal information."

"In today's world, ownership and agency over one's internet data is essential in protecting users' privacy online," continued Burr. "This bipartisan legislation is a commonsense step in granting individuals a greater ownership over the type of information companies may collect on them."

As well as the political changes in Congress, the perception of privacy by state, companies, and individuals has also changed since 2019. The California Consumer Privacy Act passed into law in late 2020, and multiple states are in the process of legislating to protect privacy.

Apple has also more recently raised awareness of privacy issues for individuals. Its controversial iOS 14 release of App Tracking Transparency has meant that iPhone users are being prompted to consider whether or not to allow advertisers to track them.

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