Sen. Schatz Introduces Bill to Protect Online Data

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U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz led a group of 15 senators in introducing The Data Care Act, a piece of legislation intended to protect personal online data.

The Data Care Act would require websites, apps and other online providers to take responsible steps to safeguard personal information, and stop the misuse of users’ data.

“People have a basic expectation that the personal information they provide to websites and apps is well-protected and won’t be used against them,” said Sen. Schatz. “Just as doctors and lawyers are expected to protect and responsibly use the personal data they hold, online companies should be required to do the same. Our bill will help make sure that when people give online companies their information, it won’t be exploited.”

Sen. Schatz is the top Democrat on the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet Subcommittee.


The Data Care Act establishes reasonable duties that will require providers to protect user data and will prohibit providers from using user data to their detriment.

Below are the guidelines informing The Data Care Act:

  • Duty of Care: must reasonably secure individual identifying data and promptly inform users of data breaches that involve sensitive information.
  • Duty of Loyalty: may not use individual identifying data in ways that harm users.
  • Duty of Confidentiality: must ensure that the duties of care and loyalty extend to third parties when disclosing, selling, or sharing individual identifying data.
  • Federal and State Enforcement: a violation of the duties will be treated as a violation of an FTC rule with fine authority. States may also bring civil enforcement actions, but the FTC can intervene.
  • Rulemaking Authority: FTC is granted rulemaking authority to implement the Act.

In addition to Sen. Schatz, the Data Care Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).


“As we see more and more often, consumer data is being used and abused in ways few people had imagined before” said Sen. Murray. “Now, it’s on Congress to ensure consumer protections keep pace with this changing reality. This legislation being introduced today makes clear that the companies we entrust with our personal information will not only be held to a higher standard, they will face penalties if they breach our trust.”

“With major hacks or data leaks of private user information at Facebook, Marriott, Google, Equifax and Uber in just the last year or so, it’s abundantly clear that Congress must do more to protect Americans’ personal data online,” said Sen. Duckworth. “Health professionals and financial advisors have long been responsible for handling personal information with the consumer’s best interests in mind, it’s time we extend this commonsense principle to websites and online providers. I’m proud to join Sen. Schatz in introducing this important legislation to do just that.”

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