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Moran Tees Up Data Privacy Bill As Senate Effort Splinters

July 30, 2019, 9:11 PM

A bipartisan pair of senators has drafted a data privacy bill that would give the Federal Trade Commission more enforcement tools, while pre-empting state laws.

Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had been working with a group of other Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee members to draft a bill, but that effort stalled in recent months. Moran said he and Blumenthal are now writing their own bill in a bid to see if they can attract the support of other lawmakers, as the August recess looms.

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who had been part of the working group, switched to developing a bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member. Cantwell is circulating a legislative framework of her own, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work.

Sens. Wicker and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) confirmed Cantwell has sent around a framework. Wicker said they are still discussing whether to include data security in a bill. Also the issue of a private right of action, which would give citizens the right to sue companies if their privacy is violated, is an area of “divergence” in his talks with Cantwell. He planned to meet with Cantwell July 30, and said “we are making fine progress.”

The Senate Commerce group included Moran, Blumenthal, Wicker, Cantwell, Schatz and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

Blumenthal says he’s hopeful the bill he’s drafted with Moran will see Senate action.

“I think we should move forward and be as inclusive as possible with all the ideas that have been proposed. The American people need and deserve privacy protection,” Blumenthal said.

Wicker said he welcomed the Moran-Blumenthal effort.

“I love extra brain power, I think good ideas will be appreciated,” Wicker told Bloomberg Government. “I’d love to have the benefit of their knowledge or brain power.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at; Rebecca Kern in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at; Zachary Sherwood at