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Data privacy bill passes Judiciary Committee with concerns

A bill seeking to further protect the data of Connecticut residents passed out of the Judiciary Committee on Monday, but not without caveats. Several members supporting the bill did so with a series of minor concerns they hope will be seen to when the bill gets to the floor of the General Assembly. Meanwhile, one vocal opponent says he cannot support a bill which does not also restrict government use of data.

Senate Bill 6 is essentially a rehashed version of a similar bill which failed to pass last year. The bill would allow consumers to determine what companies are collecting their personal data and would allow them access to that data. It would also allow them to correct or delete that data and opt out of the use of that data for sale, targeted advertising, and profiling.

It’s modeled, in part, on a bill out of Colorado, but has a much lower threshold for coverage. The bill would cover companies that collect data on more than 65,000 consumers OR companies who make a quarter of their revenue from selling the data of at least 25,000 consumers.

During the debate on Monday, proponents of the bill cited only concerns of scope and enforcement. Rep. Blumenthal, D-Stamford, wants the General Assembly to include allowances for “private rights of action” rather than relying solely on the Attorney General’s office to prosecute violations. Sen. Kissel, R-Enfield, meanwhile, believes the bill should exclude the restaurant industry, which has been hit hard during the pandemic. According to Kissel, restaurants “don’t trade in data” the way other industries do.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, provided the most vehement opposition to the bill, citing concerns that the bill “has a glaring hole” by not including governments in the restrictions. “How would we possibly draft a bill that says ‘well private entities need to be restricted in how they handle individuals data but the government does not’?” asked Dubitsky.

Data collection and privacy has become an increasing concern for consumers in recent years as citizens become more aware of how much of their data is tracked online. Similar bills are currently being taken up in 20 other states, including Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.

SB 6 will now be forwarded to the Senate floor for further debate.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

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