“The private sector and the government must recognize consumer data as the property of the consumer.”

WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today released guiding principles for legislation he plans to draft and introduce to protect online data as the property of consumers and establish privacy protections for online users.

“The private sector and the government must recognize consumer data as the property of the consumer,” said Collins. “When consumers generate data, they should have a powerful voice in who gets to use it, how much of it is used and under what conditions. Since it’s their property, consumers should also determine how much privacy they want surrounding their data.”

“We, as Congress, should promote strong legislation to protect consumers’ rights to their data and ensure consumers know how their data is used commercially,”continued Collins.

The following principles will guide the bill draft, which Collins plans to introduce this Congress.

  • Establish a federally-recognized class of online data property that includes data consumers generate on online platforms and devices — such as search data, location data, data about their responses to advertising and data included in their online posts — essentially, all the online data that makes up their “Virtual You;”
  • Recognize in federal law that this data is the property of the consumers who generate it;
  • Enable consumers to oversee the commercial use of their data property and to preclude the use of their data should they choose to do so; and
  • Include protections for uses of data generated before the bill’s enactment, for data belonging to users who are minors and for other uses of data — while not unduly disturbing settled legal doctrine, including in the area of law enforcement.

“My goal is to establish robust privacy rights and protections that are much more flexible and adaptive to the rapidly evolving online ecosystem than newgovernmental regulatory and enforcement regimes could ever be. The American people don’t need new government bureaucracies and agency-imposed regulatory schemes to control their online lives,” said Collins.

“Congress should empower people to protect their data and their privacy as their own property. Once people have that ability, it is my hope and expectation that online service providers will respond by innovating new and better means of servicing consumers that don’t threaten to over-intrude on consumers’ data privacy in the first place.”

Collins is seeking input from other members of Congress, industry and other concerned stakeholders as he prepares a legislative solution to today’s privacy and online data challenges.