US Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the Online Privacy Act of 2019 (OPA) Tuesday, which would limit the ability of companies to buy and sell consumers’ online data, create new user privacy rights, and establish a new independent agency, the Digital Protection Agency (DPA).
The OPA includes a serious of provisions, such as prohibitions on waivers to compliance requirements and predispute arbitration agreements. It also provides protections for journalistic activities. Under the OPA, entities engaged in journalism would only face new restrictions on their business practices, like providing greater protections for their subscribers, but not on their journalistic activities. Although the OPA exempts small businesses that fall within its definition of “small business,” the provisions would apply if the entity in question lost its status as a small business. It further includes an amendment to Chapter 41 of title 18 of the US Code that adds criminal penalties to the disclosure of personal information if the disclosure is intended to cause harm.
The Director of the DPA would be required to establish three advisory boards representing consumers, experts, and small businesses and investors. The three advisory boards would assist the DPA in balancing the needs of users with the needs of businesses and other entities that use private digital information.
As of yet, the OPA has not been assigned to a committee, and given the current climate in Congress it is uncertain what will happen the the bill.