Following Equifax Settlement, U.S. Senators Smith, Markey and Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Hold Data Broker Industry Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. [09/26/19]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced legislation to require accountability and transparency from data brokers like Equifax that collect and sell personal information about consumers in Minnesota and across the nation.

The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act would prohibit data brokers from engaging in discriminatory data use practices; make it possible for consumers to access and correct their information; and provide consumers with the right to stop data brokers from using, sharing, or selling their personal information for marketing purposes. The bill additionally would require data brokers to develop comprehensive privacy and data security programs and to provide reasonable notice in the case of breaches. The legislation empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish a centralized website for consumers to view a list of covered data brokers and information regarding consumer rights.

“I believe in protecting peoples’ privacy and giving people the ability to control how their personal information is used,” said Sen. Smith. “Given the frequency of data breaches and the large volume of data being collected, it’s clear that we need to ramp up our efforts to protect American consumers and hold these bad actors accountable. This bill will help us do that.”

“For too long, data brokers have profited off of our personal information at the expense of our privacy,” said Sen. Markey. “Companies, which American consumers have never heard of, continue to play fast and loose with our data, and our laws have failed to keep pace with this industry’s bad behavior. As the recent Equifax settlement made clear, we need strong, enforceable rules of the road to hold data brokers accountable and empower consumers. I thank Senator Blumenthal and Senator Smith for partnering with me on the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act.” 

“Companies like Equifax have gotten away with their reckless handling and selling of personal consumer information,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “Congress must put power back in the hands of American consumers. This common sense bill ensures that all Americans have a right to know if their personal data has been exploited or contains errors, and holds data brokers accountable for their shameless privacy and security violations.”

You can access text of the bill here.