December 19, 2019 / 12:01 AM / 2 months ago

Latest draft of U.S. federal privacy bill sidesteps key sticking points

FILE PHOTO: A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on an Internet Explorer browser in a photo illustration in Paris April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A key U.S. House committee on Wednesday released a draft of a bipartisan consumer privacy bill, which would set nationwide rules for handling of personal information online and draw new safeguards around how companies can collect and use such data.

The draft from the House Energy & Commerce Committee is the latest attempt to build consensus on a much-anticipated federal privacy legislation but does not address two of the biggest sticking points between Republicans and Democrats.

Members of both parties have disagreed over a bill overriding state privacy laws and whether individuals would have the right to sue for violation of privacy under the law.

The draft was developed by the committee’s staff and does not necessarily represent the policy positions of members, an email from the committee to various stakeholder groups said.

The committee is seeking comments from privacy groups, trade associations and companies that have been watching the bill negotiations closely for nearly a year.

Privacy concerns are mounting as big tech companies experience data breaches and public discomfort over how information is being collected and used. U.S. regulators have imposed hefty fines on Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc-owned Google’s YouTube unit for privacy violations.

Earlier this month, a draft consumer privacy bill from Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, who chairs the Commerce Committee, proposed nationwide rules for handling of personal information online and elsewhere that would override state laws.

That followed a privacy bill introduced by the top Democrat on the committee, Maria Cantwell.

Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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