A comprehensive online privacy bill is one step closer after US Congressional leaders reach a tentative bipartisan deal

Describing the polarized US Congress as dysfunctional is being too kind. Republicans and Democrats don't agree on too much in the current political climate, but one thing most people agree on is the right to privacy—particularly in the era of big tech.

According to a Punchbowl News tweet (via the Washington Post), the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee are nearing a deal that would introduce comprehensive Federal data protection standards. The bill is set to include provisions on what data companies can collect and use, and even allow individuals to sue these companies for violating their privacy rights.

On its face, this sounds like good legislation. I'm all for giving individuals more control over their data. Forcing companies to notify and inform consumers about data collection and retention policies can only be a good thing. And I'd like to be asked for permission about whether my data can be shared with third parties. 

If you're anything like me, then you hate targeted advertisements. A few weeks ago I visited a pet food store to buy some food for my cat. Minutes later I started seeing ads for pet food on my local weather website! No thanks! Some kind of opt-out solution will be very welcome in my book.

The bill—should it reach a floor vote—will mark another attempt at passing a comprehensive data privacy and protection act. There have been many attempts going back decades, but it has since become an ever more pressing issue after a series of highly publicized data leaks and scandals. 

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Though unproven pending court action, the latest example is one where Netflix was allegedly given 'programmatic' access to Facebook direct messages, which if proven, would be a major privacy breach.

The European Union introduced similar laws in 2016. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to give users rights over their personal information and data, prevent its misuse, and require companies to introduce more robust security standards. It's served as a model for many non-EU countries, but a comprehensive US solution has proved elusive. 

The US already has protections in place forbidding the sharing of users health and financial data, but a more comprehensive national privacy policy is long overdue. 

At this point in time, there's no word on when the bill will come to a floor vote—let alone if it will pass both houses— but it's good to see both parties come together on this important issue.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.