House passes bill to bar data brokers from selling sensitive personal information

On Wednesday, bipartisan leaders in a House Committee that examines interstate and international commerce praised the passing of a bill designed to keep Americans’ private information out of the hands of U.S. enemies.

The United States has a list of countries that are “foreign enemies” including China, Iran North Korea, Cuba, and the Maduro Government in Venezuela.

In a joint press release, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said: “Today’s unanimous vote sends a message that we won’t allow our adversaries undermine American national and individual security by buying people’s personally identifiable and sensitive information from data broker companies.”

In March, Rodgers and Pallone, respectively the chair and ranking member, of the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the bill prohibiting data brokers from selling sensitive information to certain countries. It was passed unanimously by a vote of 414 to 0.

The lawmakers stated that the strong showing should “help build momentum” to get this important bipartisan bill, as well as more comprehensive privacy legislation signed into law during this Congress.

The Bill prohibits data brokers (organizations that make money from selling personal information) from providing data to foreign adversary countries or entities controlled by them.

The Federal Trade Commission is also authorized to seek civil penalties exceeding $50,000 for any violation.

This legislation is a follow-up to earlier efforts made by the Biden Administration to hold data brokers who sell highly sensitive information accountable, by strengthening the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The 1970 law promotes privacy and ensures that data collected by consumer reporting companies is fair.

outline for proposals being considered in September 2023 includes suggested updates to the FCRA.

Rodgers and Pallone noted that the bill’s passing builds on the successful effort last week to pass another measure requiring China-based ByteDance to divest itself from TikTok or face a ban nationwide in the U.S.