Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, introduced a bill Thursday to create the Data Protection Agency, a new federal watchdog focused on privacy and transparent data practices. The bill, known as the Data Protection Act of 2020, has the backing of several rights-focused groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
"The US needs a new approach to privacy and data protection," Gillibrand said in a statement Thursday. "We cannot allow our freedoms to be trampled over by private companies that value profits over people, and the Data Protection Agency would do that with expertise and resources to create and meaningfully enforce data protection rules and digital rights."
Like other agencies, the Data Protection Agency would have its own director appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The proposed agency would be able to launch investigations, issue subpoenas for testimony or documents and suggest rules and orders to carry out federal privacy laws.
The Data Protection Agency would have three core missions, according to Gillibrand:
- Give consumers "control and protection" of their data.
- Maintain the tech industry "by ensuring fair competition within the digital marketplace."
- Help the federal government deal with the issues in the "digital age."
Gillibrand is not the first senator to propose an agency to better ensure American's privacy. On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, published a plan to overhaul the Federal Trade Commission. His plan would empower the commission to hold tech companies responsible for data breaches and mishandling of personal data.
Originally published Feb. 13, 6:49 a.m. PT.
Update, 6:57 a.m. PT: Adds background details.