At a February 27, 2019 hearing on “Privacy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States,” Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee offered different perspectives on whether new federal privacy legislation should preempt state privacy laws.
Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS), who described the hearing as a chance to “set the stage” for bipartisan legislation, stressed the importance of preemption, as did Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Wicker noted that a national standard would provide greater certainty for consumers, and that a preemptive framework does not necessarily mean “weaker” protections than those included in state privacy laws. Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), by contrast, said the focus on preemption (rather than new rights for consumers) was “disturbing,” and wondered if U.S. companies were trying to “shut down” the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). Similarly, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) warned that U.S. companies must convince Congress that they want “something more” than just preemption.
Despite their apparent differences on preemption, committee members broadly agreed that the “notice and choice” approach to privacy protections is insufficient.