As Republicans seek to decrease federal oversight and unwind rules and regulations promulgated under the prior administration, states are stepping up with new consumer privacy laws of their own.
In Illinois, for example, the legislature is mulling over a measure that would let consumers access the data collected by online companies such as Google and learn how the information is shared. Nebraska and West Virginia recently enacted bills limiting how an employee's social media activity can be monitored, while California and Connecticut updated existing legislation that restricts government access to online communications.
New York's lawmakers are currently considering legislation modeled on the European Union's "Right to Be Forgotten" with a bill that would permit consumers to request that search engines, publishers, and similar entities remove information that individuals have identified as being "inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive" within 30 days.
All of these efforts have been spurred in part by the current movement in Washington, D.C. to deregulate, whether via executive order or the Congressional Review Act, as demonstrated by the rescission of the Federal Communications Commission's privacy rule.
"What you're seeing is this growing recognition of the intrusiveness of these technologies, and some efforts—not to regulate them out of existence, but to regulate them in ways that allow people who care about this to preserve their own privacy," David Vladeck, currently a professor at Georgetown Law School and the former director of the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection Bureau, told The New York Times. "So what's going to happen is California is going to supplant Congress, and it's going to be augmented by states like Illinois, Minnesota and even Texas in efforts to protect [consumers'] privacy."
Why it matters: The uptick in state legislation on consumer privacy issues will likely continue as the federal government pursues its efforts to deregulate. If state laws are enacted, it could prove complicated for businesses potentially facing a patchwork of different requirements across the country.