Association Weighs in on House Data Privacy Measure

January 31, 2020

HR Policy Association commended the bipartisan cosponsors of the House’s leading data privacy measure for excluding employment data, emphasizing that expanding privacy rights for consumers should not undermine employers’ efforts to provide leading wages, benefits, and safe workplaces.

The draft legislation, introduced by Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris-Rodgers’ (R-WA), contains sweeping new federal protections for consumer data while exempting HR data.  Meanwhile, both the Republican and the Democratic measures out of the Senate Commerce Committee would exempt employment data as well.

Our letter reads, “While supporting progress toward a federal standard for consumer data privacy, the employer community is keenly focused on ensuring that such legislation appropriately distinguishes HR data from consumer data.”

Broad agreement, but two key issues of disagreement left for another day: The draft legislation is silent on preemption and a private right of action, major sticking points in the larger consumer data privacy debate in Congress.  In other words, it covers the significant ground over which both sides of the aisle—at least within the Subcommittee on Consumer Protections and Commerce—can agree.  While the measure is still in the draft stage, it may signal a significant step toward Congress approving a national data privacy law.  

Looking ahead:  The leading bills' exemptions of employment data are an encouraging sign for employers.  However, there is work to do to ensure that the language providing an exemption in a final bill is clear and effective.  HR Policy Association will continue to work with Congress toward this goal.