Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, reintroduced the Data Care Act in the Senate on March 23, leading a pack of 17 senators looking to protect user data from hacks and hold companies liable for misuse. It is Schatz’s third time introducing the bill, having introduced similar versions in both the 115th and 116th Congresses.

The bill would make the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the rulemaking authority to implement the bill’s requirements which would make the providers responsible for securing end-user data.

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“Websites and apps that collect personal information have a responsibility to protect that data and not use it in a way that harms its own users. Our bill will help make sure that when people give online companies their information, it won’t be abused,” Schatz said in a press release.

Schatz is joined in introducing the bill by a group of senators that all caucus with the Democratic party, including a handful of former presidential hopefuls. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Amy Kloubachar, D-Minn.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, all co-sponsored the legislation.

The bill would require providers to “reasonably secure” any data that could identify individuals and inform users of any breach “promptly.” In addition, the bill would prevent providers from using, disclosing, or selling identifying data in any way that could cause the user harm.

These rules would also apply to third parties and any violation will be treated as an FTC violation. The FTC would have the authority to fine first and third-party data collectors, and states would be allowed to bring civil enforcement actions unless the FTC intervenes.

Data privacy is getting a renewed push in both chambers, as Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., recently reintroduced her Information Privacy and Data Transparency Act in the House.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.