Senate bill would ban data brokers from selling location and health data

Enlarge / Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) hold an abortion rights press conference outside the United States Capitol June 15 in Washington, DC.

Getty Images | Joe Raedle

A bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Would ban data brokers from selling Americans’ location and health data, Warren’s office said wednesday.

“Largely unregulated by federal law, data brokers collect extremely personal data such as location data from seemingly innocuous sources, including weather apps and prayer apps, often without the consent or knowledge of the consumer” , said a invoice summary said. “Then the brokers turn around and sell the data in bulk to virtually any willing buyer, reaping huge profits.”

Quoting the Supreme Court draft decision to spill Roe vs. WadeWarren said “it’s more critical than ever for Congress to protect sensitive consumer data.”

Warren’s bill summary said the health and location data protection bill “prohibits data brokers from selling or transferring location data and health data and requires the Federal Trade Commission to enact rules to implement the law within 180 days, while making exceptions for HIPAA-compliant activities, First Amendment protected speech, and validly authorized disclosures.” legislation defines “data broker” as anyone “who collects, purchases, licenses or infers data about individuals and then sells, licenses or trades that data”.

Mobile operators illegally sold location data

Data sales are already illegal in some cases. In 2020, after major mobile carriers T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint were caught selling their customers’ real-time location data to third-party data brokers without user consent , Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed fines totaling $208 million. .

Warren’s bill would allow the FTC, state attorneys general and anyone affected by sales of location and health data to sue for damages and injunctions. The proposal would also give the FTC an additional $1 billion in funding.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Separately, more than 40 Democratic members of Congress last month called on Google to stop collecting and storing customer location data that prosecutors could use to identify women who have abortions.

Norman D. Briggs