Senators Sound The Alarm On The Privacy, Security, And Global Competitiveness Problems In Sen. Klobuchar’s Anti-Tech Bill
Senator Klobuchar’s American Innovation and Choice Online Act could give foreign adversaries like China and Russia access to American user data and our digital infrastructure. In last week’s markup of the bill, several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pointed out that the bill could have serious, “dangerous” impacts on data privacy and security. Here’s what they’re saying:
— The bill could be “very dangerous” because it ignores cybersecurity and privacy risks.
— The legislation would open the door for China to access the data of American users and companies, harming American global competitiveness.
The bill could be “very dangerous” because it ignores cybersecurity and privacy risks.
“I’m concerned that this is really going to be very dangerous legislation,” explains Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “I’m concerned that this is really going to be very dangerous legislation.”
— Sen. Feinstein continues: “I also want to note, and we will discuss this further, that the bill causes some very significant security concerns. Today, [major platforms] take measures to address the privacy and cybersecurity of the users.”
— “We’re requiring companies to take down protections that are in place today and instead allow hackers and those looking to steal personal data to access the devices. I’m told that Federal agencies have concerns about this, but this committee has not had the benefit of their input. For these reasons, I will oppose this bill today.”
Cybersecurity issues “don’t seem to be a consideration or priority in the bill,” says Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.): “While I’m excited by the prospect of ensuring consumers benefit from greater interoperability and consumer data portability, I’m equally concerned that consumer privacy and cybersecurity don’t seem to be a consideration or priority in the bill as currently drafted.”
— Sen. Padilla continues: “Now, as several other committee members have already expressed, I share the concerns about the potential negative impact on consumer privacy and cybersecurity.”
The bill would make it “too difficult” for platforms to protect consumer privacy, notes Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “I still have some concerns. First and foremost, I think the bill makes it too difficult for online platforms to adequately protect consumers’ privacy. The bill creates a bar that is far too high for platforms to protect privacy without worrying about being penalized.”
The legislation would open the door for China to access the data of American users and companies, harming American global competitiveness.
The bill could give foreign adversaries, particularly China, access to U.S. user data and corporate information, noted Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas): “A major part of this bill is its requirement that [covered platforms] provide access to businesses that compete on its platform. In other words, notwithstanding the huge investment and the complexity and the sophistication of the platforms, they have to offer access to businesses that don’t share those characteristics. They haven’t made any investments, they don’t have the same level of sophistication – let’s say vetting for cybersecurity risks. They would also have to provide these businesses with the same kind of software, data, and other tools that the platforms provide themselves internally, again, over years of experience and investments. This has major national security issues. China, as we know, wants access to American consumer and business information. They are a vacuum cleaner when it comes to Hoovering up data. Chinese companies, under this bill, would likely have the right to interoperate with the American platforms and have access to the features and the business data that are proprietary for these businesses.”
— Sen. Cornyn also explains: “I do have concerns about the impact of this bill on American businesses’ ability to compete in the global economy and that it will also create potential harmful impacts on our national security. I think there have also been questions about cybersecurity and data privacy that have not been answered and I would just conclude by saying that the manager’s amendment was circulated less than 2 days ago and in my view, that itself commands further consideration.”
The legislation could help foreign competitors that are not covered under its provisions, points out Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.). “It may end up giving a competitive advantage to other large global businesses that narrowly escape being regulated by the bill.”
The bill is “concerning” because “it could require” American data sharing with Chinese companies, explains Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) “I have concerns with provisions in the bill that could require data sharing between American companies and bad actors under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.”
There are “significant concerns” regarding the bill’s effect on America’s presence on the world stage, says Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.). “I have significant concerns about potentially unintended negative consequences globally of our digital democracy principles on the world stage.
— Sen. Coons continues: “I have concerns about our global competitiveness.”
The focus needs to be on “maintaining US technology global leadership,” explains Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “We need to be focused on maintaining US technology global leadership and supporting innovation. The bill as it’s currently drafted risks stifling innovation, curbing investments that will stimulate our nation’s leading research and development community.”
Check out other Springboard writing on this topic here and here, and see what Members of Congress had to say about the risks of a similar House bill here.
You can find Springboard’s recommended reading on the security risks of this bill here and here.
Read former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien’s comments on this subject here and a letter from 12 former top U.S. national security officials on this topic here.
View TechNet’s compilation video of Senators voicing their concerns with this bill here.