An Internet Bill of Rights? One California representative says the time has come

Rep. Rohit “Ro” Khanna, D-Calif., recently unveiled a list of 10 principles amounting to a draft Int
Rep. Ro Khanna of California recently unveiled a list of 10 principles amounting to a draft Internet Bill of Rights.
(Alyssa Schukar / For The Washington Post)
Washington Post

By July of 2019, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) aims to see the House of Representatives pass landmark legislation shielding consumers from the onslaught of data breaches and the anxiety and confusion over the misuse of their personal information on the web.

To nudge such legislation along, Khanna recently unveiled a list of 10 principles amounting to a draft Internet Bill of Rights that he hopes will inform sweeping data privacy laws to protect American citizens in the digital age.

“There’s great concern that Americans have about the protection of their privacy online and about their security online,” Khanna said in an interview Friday.

This list contains principles that many lawmakers, consumer advocates and technologists have long clamored for, including network neutrality, greater transparency into data-collection practices and timely notification if a company holding personal data suffers a hack.

Previous congressional efforts to pass data protection laws have failed to advance, even in the wake of the massive Equifax breach disclosed last year and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke in March. But even Republican officials have suggested the momentum has shifted.

“The question is no longer whether we need a national law to protect consumers’ privacy,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said in an op-ed last month. “The question is what shape that law should take.”

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in May, has swayed industry players to work on uniform rules — as has the recent passage of California’s robust privacy law. And the prospect rises of other states passing similar restrictions on data-harvesting practices.

“Expanding access to a safe and secure Internet and protecting consumers remains a top priority for House Democrats,” said Taylor Griffin, a spokeswoman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-San Francisco), in a statement.

Khanna said Pelosi asked him to began drafting the Bill of Rights six months ago, but the work to turn the principles into law will fall under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Committee, in the next Congress, he added.

The draft bill of rights states:

Consumers should have the right:

1. to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies;

2. to opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party;

3. where context appropriate and with a fair process, to obtain, correct or delete personal data controlled by any company and to have those requests honored by third parties;

4. to have personal data secured and to be notified in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered;

5. to move all personal data from one network to the next;

6. to access and use the internet without internet service providers blocking, throttling, engaging in paid prioritization or otherwise unfairly favoring content, applications, services or devices;

7. to internet service without the collection of data that is unnecessary for providing the requested service absent opt-in consent;

8. to have access to multiple viable, affordable internet platforms, services and providers with clear and transparent pricing;

9. not to be unfairly discriminated against or exploited based on your personal data; and

10. to have an entity that collects your personal data have reasonable business practices and accountability to protect your privacy.

Shaban writes for the Washington Post