NATSO recently joined a number of other consumer-facing retail trade associations in sending a letter to lawmakers articulating retailers' top principles for any legislation affecting the protection of consumer data privacy. The letter urges Congress to establish a single, uniform, nationwide data privacy law. "Our members have no higher priority than relationships with their customers," the letter states. "To comprehensively protect Americans, any federal data privacy legislation should apply to all industry sectors . . . .All of the companies involved in handling that chain of data should have legal obligations to properly guard it under privacy law, and the law should not solely rely on private contracts to create those legal obligations."
The letter that NATSO joined outlined seven principles that "are important to ensure that any federal legislation on data privacy protects consumers in a nationwide, uniform and consistent way." Those principles are:
- Industry neutrality and equal protection for consumers across business sectors;
- Direct statutory obligations for all entitles that handle consumer data;
- Allowing companies to continue offering rewards and loyalty benefits for consumers;
- Transparency and customer choice;
- Holding businesses responsible for their own actions;
- Uniform, nationwide rules and enforcement for data privacy that preempts the patchwork of state requirements;
- Data security and breach notification.
The House and Senate each held hearings on data privacy issues last week. Hanging over the hearings was a California privacy law, which takes effect in 2020, that will require businesses to allow consumers to opt out of the sale of their data. As a general matter, Republicans support congressional preemption of state data privacy laws, while Democrats are more inclined to allow states to enact measures that go beyond minimum federal standards.
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