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STATE Policy Agenda

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Privacy and Security

Consumers expect, and should expect, to trust the tech sector to protect their data. One of TechNet’s top priorities is ensuring that governments focus on policies that harness market incentives to drive effective risk management and do not exacerbate harms to victims of criminal hacks.

Priority Issues

Privacy

Many policymakers and interest groups introduce and sponsor legislation targeted at consumer privacy and an individual’s right to access and control their personally identifiable information. TechNet understands our member companies place a high priority on consumer privacy. The technology industry is committed to privacy protections and securing consumer data, as transparency and the responsible use of data are pillars of the tech sector. TechNet will advocate for a federal privacy standard that brings uniformity to all Americans regardless of where they live, continues to encourage innovation, and ensures that consumers’ privacy and security are protected.

In absence of a federal standard, lawmakers should look to legislation already passed in other states to create a unified standard and ensure interoperability. The state program supports the following principles:

  • Any consumer privacy bill should be oriented around building consumers’ trust and fostering innovation and competitiveness.  
  • Consumer consent, where applicable, should focus on sensitive personal information and the data of minors. Should consent be part of a state framework, it should recognize the limitations of software, hardware, and data and not be overly burdensome or prescriptive to the consumer or technology provider. It should also be flexible and convenient for all users regardless of socioeconomic or disability status.
  • New privacy laws should provide strong safeguards to consumers while also allowing the industry to continue to innovate. New laws should be based upon a uniform set of standards to avoid imposing a patchwork of policies across jurisdictions.
  • Specific requirements on data collection, use, or retention should be commensurate with the sensitivity of the data.
  • Privacy laws should be limited to specific practices tied to specific harms.
  • Enforcement by a state’s attorney general is preferred, and private rights of action and other tools to encourage litigation must be avoided. A right to cure should be provided, and monetary judgments should be tied to actual damages.
  • Outright bans, prohibitions, or moratoriums on specific technologies should be avoided.
  • State privacy laws should not apply to information already regulated by existing federal privacy laws.
  • Privacy laws should not limit consumer access to free, advertising-supported services.
  • Legislation should not force data controllers to share consumer data with third parties.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity continues to be one of the most significant challenges facing public and private entities in the modern digital economy. The technology industry invests significant resources to protect public safety, guard our operations from interruption and intrusion, and prevent the loss of capital and intellectual property. Due to the nature of state statutes and local ordinances, legislation and regulation addressing cybersecurity issues can lead to the misallocation of limited resources through mandates that are overly prescriptive or technology-specific. These actions can hamper innovation and make impacted information systems easier targets for cyber criminals. Instead, we must protect and promote the ability of the private sector to be fast and agile in detection, prevention, mitigation, and response to ever-changing threats.

The state program supports the following principles:

  • Cohesive and adaptable national guidance is preferable to individual state or local mandates to provide consistent, clear standards for companies to follow.
  • Policymakers should encourage good cyber hygiene, modern technology, leading industry practices, and high-skilled cyber workers. Specifically, market-based incentives or safe harbors should be used to encourage companies to actively manage risks in accordance with widely accepted industry standards and best practices.
  • Encryption is a fundamental technology necessary to protect the security of critical systems and sensitive information. Governments should not demand changes that weaken encryption or other reasonable security measures.
  • A comprehensive, risk-based cybersecurity strategy should increase the security and resilience of all networks and end-user devices and prepare for and mitigate cyberattacks through the coordination of industry and government.
  • Cybersecurity policies should focus on enhancing the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information networks and end-user devices utilizing national recognized standards and data and provide for legal safe harbors to incentivize government and businesses to take steps to ensure that there are policies and procedures in place to protect against data breaches.  
  • Security is an ongoing process aimed at managing risks that requires sustained and ongoing investments in people, processes, and technology.  
  • The internet is global and requires laws, policies, and regulations to reflect the global nature of the market.
  • Securing widely different internet-connected devices requires flexible security features appropriate to the nature and function of the device to prevent unauthorized remote access.
  • Governments should maintain industry-leading cybersecurity practices and not require businesses to share data that it cannot keep safe and secure from threats.

Data Breach

Data breach policy focuses on the responsibility and requirements following what is almost always a criminal attack on a public or private entity that has successfully accessed or otherwise compromised consumer and proprietary business data. Public policy in this area should be risk-based and focused on the likelihood of actual harm to consumers.

The state program supports the following principles:

  • A single, national standard focused on protecting people from substantial harm is preferred because it would provide companies and customers with consistent, actionable notice of a data breach.
  • Notice requirements that are not related to prospective harm only burden companies and confuse customers with notifications that are not actionable. These requirements should be uniform, maintain consistent thresholds for reporting, and provide a reasonable notice timeframe.
  • The distinction between an account takeover and a data breach should be explicitly recognized in data breach statutes, with differentiated provisions and reporting methodologies.
  • Data rendered unusable by encryption, redaction, or any other security method or technology should be considered out of the scope of data breach policy because the risks of harm are not cognizable.
  • Data breach policy should only impact an entity if their network or system has been breached and acquisition of personally identifiable information has occurred. Reporting requirements that relate to unsuccessful attempts are not risk-based and will waste limited resources.  Entities should not be held responsible for, or be required to rectify, breaches outside of their control or responsibility.
  • The statutory definition of personally identifiable information should be limited to information that, if compromised, could lead to identity theft or other substantial harm.  
  • Public safety entities should be provided the appropriate level of resources to help deter, identify, track, and punish this criminal behavior.
  • Private rights of action, civil penalties, and other tools to encourage litigation will reduce the effectiveness of a data breach standard without providing substantive breach protections.
  • Policymakers should encourage good cyber hygiene, modern technology, leading industry practices, and high-skilled cyber workers. Specifically, market-based incentives or safe harbors should be used to encourage companies to actively manage risks in accordance with widely accepted industry standards and best practices. 

Secure and Safe Repair

TechNet will oppose any legislative proposals that would require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provision independent repair firms in the same manner in which they provision authorized repair providers within their networks because of the potential for troubling, unintended consequences, including serious cybersecurity risks, privacy risks, safety risks, piracy hazards, and barriers to innovation. Consumers, small and large businesses, public schools, hospitals, banks, and manufacturers all need reasonable assurance that those they trust to repair their connected products will do so safely, securely, and correctly.

The state program supports the following principles:

  • OEMs and authorized repair firms are uniquely qualified to ensure the secure and safe repair of electronic products. These firms use OEM-trained technicians and original parts that are backed by the OEMs and their partners with warranties, legally enforceable contracts, quality assurance requirements, and other mechanisms that provide strong protections for consumers.
  • Requiring manufacturers to disclose diagnostic tools, source code, and software developed by the manufacturer at significant cost and provide access to tightly controlled supply chains to unaffiliated, unvetted third parties would place proprietary corporate information and sensitive customer information in the hands of unknown actors, creating a new set of intellectual property rights concerns and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.  
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