Press Releases

Trahan Pushes for Stronger Data Privacy and Transparency Provisions in Bipartisan Privacy Package

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee, highlighted necessary areas of improvement in the discussion draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), a bipartisan privacy package agreed to by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

CLICK HERE or the image below to watch Trahan’s full line of questioning.

One of the bills discussed in today’s hearing was Trahan’s bipartisan, bicameral Data Elimination and Limiting Extensive Tracking and Exchange (DELETE) Act, which would establish a system through which individuals could request that all data brokers delete any personal data collected by the company and prohibit future collection. The current privacy discussion draft put forward by committee would allow Americans to request that data brokers stop future collection of their data but does not give them the right to have previously collected data deleted.

“The DELETE Act, which I introduced with Congressman Chuck Edwards and Senators Bill Cassidy and Jon Ossoff, would give every American the right to have data brokers delete their data and prohibit future collection. This is a commonsense proposal that’s been discussed before in this committee because of the national security concerns with the way data brokers harvest and sell some of our most sensitive data to the highest bidder, including our foreign adversaries,” Congresswoman Trahan said. “Provisions of the DELETE Act were included in the privacy package that was advanced overwhelmingly out of this committee last Congress. However, I’m concerned that some of the changes to those provisions in the American Privacy Rights Act discussion draft will not fully meet the needs of American users.”

Trahan also pushed for stronger transparency provisions in APRA, including mandating requirements for large technology companies to allow independent researchers to analyze the content moderation, algorithmic, and design actions on platforms to understand impacts on users and compliance with federal laws. Trahan has repeatedly pushed for increased researcher access, including by introducing the Digital Services Oversight and Safety Act that would create an Office of Independent Research Facilitation at the Federal Trade Commission to oversee a system through which independent researchers can study the impacts of covered platforms and their content moderation practices, product design decisions, and algorithms.

“It’s essential to privacy and kids’ safety online that large data holders are transparent about their business practices and are held accountable by third parties. The best way to do that is to require that qualified researchers are able to study how the decisions made by powerful online platforms are complying with the privacy laws we hope to pass in this committee and impacting users,” Congresswoman Trahan continued. “I’ve been working with Senator Coons on language to empower researchers to take a look under the hood of powerful online companies like Meta and Google in a way that allows them to do their work while protecting user privacy and intellectual property.”

During her line of questioning, Trahan applauded inclusion of her TLDR Act in the hearing and provisions of the bill in the bipartisan privacy framework. The TLDR Act, which she introduced with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), would require that online companies make their terms of service contracts more accessible, transparent, and understandable for consumers. A 2012 study found that it would take 76 work days for the average American to read the agreements for the websites and platforms they routinely use, and a 2022 poll found that nearly 9 out of every 10 Americans have agreed to a company’s terms of service without reading the contract first.