Create Strong Federal Digital Privacy and Security Laws in the United States

Create Strong Federal Digital Privacy and Security Laws in the United States

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Rather than a comprehensive legal protection for personal data, the United States has only a patchwork of sector-specific laws that fail to adequately protect data. Congress should create a single legislative data-protection mandate to protect individuals’ privacy. 

A majority of Americans (64%) have personally experienced a major data breach, and relatively large shares of the public lack trust in key institutions – especially the federal government and social media sites – to protect their personal information

Some 28% of Americans are not confident at all that the federal government can keep their personal information safe and secure from unauthorized users, while 24% of social media users lack any confidence in these sites to protect their data. By contrast, just 12% of Americans (and 9% of social media users) have a very high level of confidence that these entities can keep their personal information safe and secure.

Record-shattering data breaches and inadequate data-protection practices have produced only piecemeal legislative responses at the federal level, competing state laws, and a myriad of enforcement regimes. Most Western countries have already adopted comprehensive legal protections for personal data, but the United States—home to some of the most advanced, and largest, technology and data companies in the world—continues to lumber forward with a patchwork of sector-specific laws and regulations that fail to adequately protect data. U.S. citizens and companies suffer from this uneven approach—citizens because their data is not adequately protected, and companies because they are saddled with contradictory and sometimes competing requirements. It is past time for Congress to create a single legislative data-protection mandate to protect individuals’ privacy and reconcile the differences between state and federal requirements.

Sources: Pew Research Center, CFR.org, Fastcompany.com

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