At least two senators reaffirmed their support for Federal data privacy legislation at a paper Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing this week, with committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., citing the collection of coronavirus-related data as another good reason for lawmakers to act.

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“The collection of consumer location data to track the coronavirus, although well intentioned and possibly necessary at this time, further underscores the need for uniform, national privacy legislation,” said Sen. Wicker at this week’s “paper” hearing, which featured only written statements.


Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., agreed with the call for congressional action. “We need to pass federal privacy legislation to set a national standard that will allow companies to innovate while protecting consumers,” Sen. Blackburn said.

Committee members’ questions, along with the witness statements and Sen. Wicker’s opening remarks, were posted on the committee’s website. Witnesses will have four business days to submit responses to lawmakers’ questions.

“Strengthening consumer data privacy through the development of a strong and bipartisan federal data privacy law has been a priority for this Committee,” Sen. Wicker said in his opening remarks. After a California privacy law went into effect this year, Federal legislation has remained stalled. The current pandemic, however, might put a new wrinkle on lawmakers’ thinking.

At least one committee member – Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. – had among his questions to the hearing witnesses, “How does the pandemic shift the landscape for crafting and passing legislation?”

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.