Over half of all Americans would support a federal data privacy law, according to a recent poll from Politico and Morning Consult. The poll found that 56 percent of registered voters would either strongly or somewhat support a proposal to “make it illegal for social media companies to use personal data to recommend content via algorithms.” Democrats were most likely to support the proposal at 62 percent, compared to 54 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Independents. Still, the numbers may show that bipartisan action is possible.
The poll is indicative of American’s increasing data privacy awareness and concerns. Colorado, Virginia, and California all passed or updated data privacy laws within the last year, and nearly every state is considering similar legislation. Additionally, Congress held several high-profile hearings last year soliciting testimony from several tech industry leaders and whistleblower Frances Haugen. In the private sector, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out in favor of a national data privacy standard similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Politico and Morning Consult released the poll results days after Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) accepted a 24,000-signature petition calling for Congress to pass a federal data protection law. Senator Wyden, who recently introduced his own data privacy proposal called the “Mind Your Own Business Act,” said it was “past time” for Congress to act.
He may be right: U.S./EU data flows have been on borrowed time since 2020. The GDPR prohibits data flows from the EU to countries with inadequate data protection laws, including the United States. The U.S. Privacy Shield regulations allowed the United States to circumvent the rule, but an EU court invalidated the agreement in 2020, and data flows between the US and the EU have been in legal limbo ever since. Eventually, Congress and the EU will need to address the situation and a federal data protection law would be a long-term solution.
*This post was authored by Blair Robinson, legal intern at Robinson+Cole. Blair is not admitted to practice law.