After years of claiming self-regulation would keep them in line, big tech companies spooked by new state data privacy safeguards are now calling for a national privacy law—one that would roll back these vital state protections.

We are one of sixteen consumer privacy and civil rights groups to remind Congress that while we support federal baseline data privacy legislation that provides basic protection for all Americans, such a law must not come at the price of dismantling (or as lawyers say, “preempting”) the legal rights of people who live in states with stronger data privacy protections.

State governments across the country have stepped up in the fight to strengthen privacy, with laws that grant their citizens important protections—such as a right to know what personal information companies collect about them (California), the right to decide whether to share biometric information with companies (Illinois), and protection from fraudulent collection of their data (Vermont).

As our coalition says in our letter:

We urge you to focus intently on the rights and dignity of your constituents by actively opposing any proposals to preempt stronger state laws in federal privacy legislation, so that existing state protections—both regulatory standards and liability rules—are maintained and so that states are free to adopt new protections.

While EFF would welcome sensible nationwide legislation that increases everyone’s protections for data privacy, a uniform federal law is counterproductive if it blocks something stronger. We will oppose any federal legislation that preempts hard-fought state privacy rules that provide stronger protection.

As we said in our own letter to the Senate Commerce Committee this September: if Congress enacts data privacy legislation that is weaker than the existing state data privacy law, and simultaneously preempts the stronger state data privacy laws, the result will be a massive step backwards for user privacy.

Our allies in this coalition effort are Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, Common Sense Kids Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, Customer Commons, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Media Alliance, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Public Citizen, Stop Online Violence Against Women, and U.S. PIRG.

 You can read the full letter here.

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