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Senators to introduce privacy bill amid Facebook data scandal

Bill aims to give Americans more control over their online data, including disabling tracking and collection.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate commerce and judiciary committees. 

Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images

A pair of Senators said Thursday they'll introduce a bipartisan bill to protect American consumers' online data privacy, a day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by lawmakers over the social network's privacy protection practices.

The bill would give consumers the right to see what information has been collected about them and keep it private by disabling data tracking and collection on websites. It'd also require terms of service agreements be in plain English and mandate that companies notify users within 72 hours if their information is affected by a breach.

"The data breach at Facebook showed the world that the digital promised land is not all milk and honey," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., a co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "I don't want to regulate Facebook half to death, but there are things that need to be changed," he said in a statement

The proposed legislation comes after Zuckerberg was asked repeatedly during hearings on Capitol Hill this week why Facebook didn't notify the Federal Trade Commission in 2015 that it had discovered data from 87 millions of its users had been shared with Cambridge Analytica, a firm later hired by the Trump presidential campaign during the 2016 US election.

Facebook learned of the infraction in 2015 but didn't inform the public. Instead, the company demanded that all the parties involved destroy the information. But now there are reports that not all the data was deleted. 

"We considered it a closed case. In retrospect that was clearly a mistake. We shouldn't have taken their word for it," Zuckerberg said Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

A Facebook representative said the company looks forward to reviewing the details of the legislation.

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