The $1.7 trillion, 4155-page "omnibus" appropriations bill was released at 1:30 am this morning – without any privacy legislation attached. With Congress rushing to leave DC before a huge snowstorm closes in, it looks like that's it for 2022.
Privacy legislation is hard.
Still, by the time we got to the lame duck session, there weren't any good options on the table. More than 90 human rights and LGBTQ Groups opposed the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), and the sponsors' attempts to address the problems didn't go far enough. And as the letter to Speaker Pelosi on the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) from WA People's Privacy, Washington Poor People's Campaign, PDX Privacy, Japanese American Citizens League Seattle Chapter, Whatcom Human Rights Task Force and a bunch of Indivisible groups details, the current version of ADPPA needs significant strengthening "to protect abortion healthcare-seekers, Immigrants, Poor, BIPOC, LGBTQ2SIA+ and unfavored communities and individuals from commercial surveillance and overreaches of law enforcement via access to our data."
Far better to continue the discussions in 2023 than to pass a bill with major problems.
And the anti-climactic ending shouldn't undercut the very real progress that was made in 2022:
- ADPPA was the first comprehensive privacy bill to advance from committee this decade – and a 53-2 bipartisan vote that privacy is a civil right is a huge achievement. Not only that, as the WA People's Privacy letter highlights, there are specific suggestions for improvements that would address many of the bill's current weaknesses; and privacy abuses from companies like Twitter will no doubt continue to provide real-world test cases as to how effective proposed legislation is.
- On kids privacy, bipartisan consensus emerged on key high-level points from COPPA 2.0 and ADPPA (although there are lots of details to iron out): banning targeted marketing to children, extending data protection to teenagers, and creating a Youth Marketing and Privacy division in the FTC.
- The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act got strong bipartisan support at its July hearing.
- The FTC's Advance Notice of Potential Rulemaking and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's AI Bill of Rights laid the groundwork for strong regulation, either by Congress or the FTC
So thanks to all the legislators, staffers, non-profits, advocates, and activists for the hard work on privacy this year!
Laying the groundwork for 2023? discusses the prospects for next year. In Congress, all the key bills have bipartisan sponsorship so may well remain on the table; it's hard to know how quickly they'll focus on privacy, but legislators from both parties understand that their constituents realllllllly want them to do something to rein in the privacy abuses from big tech companies and data brokers.
And as David Stauss points out in The Future of State Privacy Legislation After the 2022 Election, there's a lot going on at the state level as well.
Including here in Washington state, where our legislative session starts on January 9 – and a broad coalition of organizations (including the ones who signed on to that letter to Pelosi) and individual privacy advocates has steadily been building power over the last several years. It should be a very interesting session here. The My Health My Data Act is extremely promising, and the People's Privacy Act is closer than it's ever been to getting a hearing. So stay tuned for an exciting 2023!