McMorris Rodgers: “Data Brokers’ Days of Surveilling in the Dark Should be Over”

Washington, D.C. — Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) delivered opening remarks at today’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the role of data brokers and online privacy protections.

Excerpts and highlights from her prepared remarks below:

DATA BROKERS ARE INVADING PEOPLE’S PRIVACY

“This is our fifth in our series of hearings this Congress across the Committee for strong data privacy and security protections for all Americans.

“Today, we seek to expose and learn more about how pervasive and invasive the collection and selling of people’s data has become.

“Data brokers are harvesting people’s data, selling or sharing it without their knowledge, and failing to keep it secure.

“A stunning amount of information and data is being collected on Americans—their physical health, mental health, their location, what they are buying, what they are eating.

“With more Americans than ever using apps and digital services, this problem is only getting worse.

“People have no say over whether and where their personal data is sold and shared.

“They have no guaranteed way to access, delete, or correct their data and, they have no ability to stop the unchecked collection of their sensitive personal information.

“We must continue our work for a national data privacy standard so that individuals can exercise their rights, businesses can continue to innovate, and the government’s role is clearly defined.”

“Today we explore ways that we have become just dollar signs for data brokers and Big Tech.

“We need a national data privacy standard that changes the status quo and ensures Americans regain control of their personal information.

“Right now, there are no robust protections and current privacy laws are inadequate, leaving Americans vulnerable.

“For example, during government-enforced COVID-19 lockdowns, GPS and mobile phone data collected by a data broker was used by the state to spy on Californians exercising their right to attend church services.

“It certainly raises questions of how data brokers aren’t just violating people’s privacy but their civil liberties as well.

“This isn’t acceptable. It’s what you would expect in the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillant state, not in America.”

WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL DATA PRIVACY STANDARD

“Data brokers’ days of surveilling in the dark should be over.

“People should trust their data is being protected.

“We are at an inflection point to ensure our personal information is responsibly collected especially since this data may be used to train and develop artificial intelligence that may or may not align with our values.

“We need to ensure that the metaverse doesn’t become the next frontier for exploiting our kids.

“That requires a broad comprehensive bill that will address all Americans’ data and put even stronger guardrails around our kids’ information.

“That’s why the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) included the strongest internet protections for children of any legislation last Congress.

“And privacy protections should not stop with kids.

“We need a federal privacy law that gives everyone data protections—no matter where they live and no matter their age.

“We will continue to build on our work from ADPPA this Congress and get these strong protections for kids and all Americans signed into law.

“Thank you, Ranking Member Pallone and my colleagues across the aisle, for continuing to work with us.

“I look forward to today’s hearing as we continue to explore how data collectors and brokers are manipulating our lives and our security.”

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