Several developments this week underscored the continued importance of a bill that has been introduced to implement uniform privacy federal privacy standards.

First, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that enacting a comprehensive national privacy law was an imperative of Congress in light of businesses collecting ever-increasing amounts of consumer data. In the view of the GAO, this data collection, combined with rapid technological advancement, raises ongoing concerns pertaining to privacy and the potential for bias, among others. The GAO attributes these concerns to the absence of a broad national privacy law.

Second, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) expressed optimism that a federal privacy law can be enacted before the end of the year, despite the challenges ahead. In July, H.R. 8152, American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) was favorably reported out of the Committee. If enacted, the ADPPA would codify several privacy best practices into federal law. It would require, among other things, that businesses limit the collection, processing, and transfer of “covered data” to that which is “reasonably necessary, proportionate, and limited to” provide products or services to the individual, communicate with the individual, or perform another purpose permitted by the legislation. Sec. 101(a).

California Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have opposed the legislation due to their expressed concern that it would undermine already enacted California privacy laws. Chairman Pallone will be meeting with the Speaker to discuss these concerns.

With the House (and the Senate) having adjourned for the November elections, action on the legislation in the House will not likely occur until Congress returns for a post-election “lame duck” session. And then the potentially even bigger challenge awaits when the bill reaches the Senate.