December 2, 2019 / 10:03 PM / 12 days ago

Republican privacy bill draft would set U.S. rules, pre-empt California -senator

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - A draft of a privacy bill written by Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker’s staff would set nationwide privacy rules and override state laws, including one in California set to take effect next year.

Wicker, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said in an interview on Monday the 25-page draft bill is “better, stronger, clearer” than the California privacy law which will begin to take effect at the beginning of 2020.

Privacy concerns are mounting as the luster of the Big Tech platforms, once praised as among the most dynamic parts of the U.S. economy, has faded because of data breaches and discomfort over what information is being collected and its use. U.S. regulators have imposed hefty fines on Facebook Inc and Google Inc’s YouTube unit for privacy violations.

Wicker’s office released a copy of the draft to Reuters that began circulating in recent days. Wicker said much of the bill aligns with a bill introduced by the top Democrat on the committee, Maria Cantwell, last week.

Democrats like Cantwell are determined to not sign on to an online privacy bill that would pre-empt state laws, while Republicans appear equally determined to avoid a confusing patchwork of state measures.

Wicker said he and Cantwell disagree over the role plaintiffs’ attorneys should be able to play in privacy litigation.

Cantwell and the Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer “need to decide if they want a bill, if they would like to continue negotiating in good faith or whether we are going to abandon this over plaintiffs’ lawyers,” Wicker said. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang)

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