Biden will call for action on privacy rights in State of the Union

President Biden will call for stronger privacy protections and increased algorithmic transparency from tech companies in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, repeating his message from last year’s address about the need to strengthen privacy rights.

“There should be clear and strict limits on the ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain our personal data, especially for sensitive data such as geolocation and health information, and the burden must fall on companies – not consumers – to minimize how much information they collect,” the White House said in a fact sheet released before the speech.

As part of the address, Biden will ask Congress to ban targeted advertising for children and enact new protections for the privacy and online safety for children — echoing points he made in his 2022 State of the Union address. In January, Biden used a Wall Street Journal op-ed to call on Congress to “unite against Big Tech” and pass legislation reining in how companies collect and use personal data, including that of children.

In the year since Biden’s last address, Congress has made little progress toward those goals. Federal privacy legislation passed out of committee in the House but stalled due to opposition from Democratic leaders in the Senate and an intractable debate over whether federal privacy law should pre-empt similar measures at the state level. At year’s end, lawmakers in the Senate made a last-minute push for a kid’s online safety bill but ultimately failed.

Sponsors of both the more comprehensive measure in the House and the Senate measure focused on children’s safety online have expressed intentions to reintroduce the bills this year.

In his address Tuesday, Biden will also call for more robust measures to address the mental health crisis facing Americans, including the harm to children posed by online platforms.

Biden’s call to address the mental health risks of children’s online life builds on a series of recent initiatives. In September, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $2 million to the American Academy of Pediatrics to establish a National Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Wellness, which will study and offer guidance on the impact of social media use on young people. As part of its year-end spending package, Congress allocated $15 million to the National Institutes of Health and HHS to lead a research program on technology and media’s effects on infants, children, and adolescents.

The Federal Trade Commission has also launched a process to explore rulemaking about commercial surveillance, which includes potentially exploring the impact of social media on children.

In lieu of federal progress, states have pushed forward on their own privacy legislation, with a strong focus on biometrics and children’s privacy. Last year California signed into law its “Age Appropriate Design Code Act,” which garnered significant attention as the first legislation of its kind requiring companies to consider the best interest of users under 18. Already in 2023 seven states have introduced their own children’s privacy-related legislation.

The post Biden will call for action on privacy rights in State of the Union appeared first on CyberScoop.

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