Nancy Pelosi Is Blocking Landmark Data Privacy Legislation—for a Good Reason
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
New legislation on Capitol Hill brings us closer than ever to having comprehensive data privacy protection and a civil right to intimate privacy. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act enjoys bipartisan support: It passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with a vote of 53-2. And while it’s unclear how the bill will fare in the Senate, its bipartisan support gives reason for optimism. There’s just one obstacle to the House passing the ADPPA: California and its most powerful federal lawmaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Because the federal privacy act would preempt state laws—including California’s robust protections and its ability to continue to innovate with stronger laws—Pelosi has yet to hold a vote on the bill in its current form. Pelosi noted that, as the California governor and top state leaders have underscored, the ADPPA “does not guarantee the same essential consumer protections as California’s existing privacy laws.” To be clear, that’s not exactly true: The ADPPA arguably provides as strong or stronger protections than current California privacy law. Nevertheless, there’s a way to overcome those objections and garner her and the state’s support by drawing on lessons from California’s historic role in creating environmental standards.