January 16, 2019 / 8:02 PM / 6 months ago

Republican Senator Rubio introduces online privacy bill

WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill on Wednesday aimed at giving Americans some control over information that big, online companies like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google collect on their location, personal preferences, job history or biometric data like fingerprints.

Despite divisions in Congress, lawmakers from both parties have criticized the tech giants and others over data breaches, a lack of online privacy options and concern about political bias.

Congress has been expected to pass some sort of online privacy bill to pre-empt a stringent law passed by California.

Rubio's bill, which would pre-empt the California law, would require the Federal Trade Commission to draw up rules for companies to follow that are based on the Privacy Act of 1974, with a goal of having them in place within 18 months of the Republican senator's bill becoming law.

The 1974 measure requires government agencies to give public notice of what records they keep, prohibits most disclosures of records unless the person gives written consent and gives people a way to fix inaccurate records.

Rubio's measure won praise from Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who worried it would be implemented too slowly.

"Senator Rubio has put forward a very good proposal to address growing concerns about privacy protection. The federal Privacy Act is also the right starting point," he said.

"A key question is whether the public can afford to wait several years before legislation is enacted. Foreign adversaries are today targeting the personal data of American consumers," Rotenberg said.

Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Bill Berkrot

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