Protecting people's privacy is the first step we should take to create meaningful online regulation. That's why EFF has previously expressed concerns about the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) which, rather than set up strong protections, instead freezes consumer data privacy protections in place, preempts existing state laws, and would prevent states from creating stronger protections in the future

While the bill has not yet been formally introduced, subsequent discussion drafts of the bill have not addressed our concerns; in fact, they've only deepened them. So, earlier this month, EFF told Congress that it opposes APRA and signed two letters to reiterate why overriding stronger state laws—and preventing states from passing stronger laws—hurts everyone.

EFF has a clear position on this: federal privacy laws should not roll back state privacy protections. And there is no reason that we must trade strong state laws for weaker national privacy protection. Companies that collect and use data—and have worked to kill strong state privacy bills time and again— want Congress to believe a "patchwork" of state laws is unworkable for data privacy, even though existing federal privacy and civil rights laws operate as regulatory floors and do not prevent states from enacting and enforcing their own stronger statutes. In a letter opposing the preemption sections of the bill, our allies at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated it this way: "the soundest approach to avoid the harms from preemption is to set the federal standard as a national baseline for privacy protections — and not a ceiling." Advocates from ten states signed on to the letter warning how APRA, as written, would preempt dozens of stronger state laws. These include laws protecting AI regulation in Colorado, internet privacy in Maine, healthcare and tenant privacy in New York, and biometric privacy in Illinois, just to name a handful. 

APRA would also override a California law passed to rein in data brokers and replace it with weaker protections. EFF last year joined Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) and others to support and pass the California Delete Act, which gives people an easy way to delete information held by data brokers. In a letter opposing APRA, several organizations that supported California's law highlighted ways that APRA falls short of what's already on the books in California. "By prohibiting authorized agents, omitting robust transparency and audit requirements, removing stipulated fines, and, fundamentally, preempting stronger state laws, the APRA risks leaving consumers vulnerable to ongoing privacy violations and undermining the progress made by trailblazing legislation like the California Delete Act," the letter said.

EFF continues to advocate for strong privacy legislation and encourages APRA's authors to center strong consumer protections in future drafts.

To view the coalition letter on the preemption provisions of APRA, click here:

To view the coalition letter opposing APRA because of its data broker provisions, click here: