Ed Markey wants Europe’s sweeping new internet privacy rules in the United States

Would GDPR be good for the USA?

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) speaks during a news conference
Sen. Ed Markey speaks during a news conference earlier this month on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. –Zach Gibson / Getty Images

After months of anticipation, the European Union began enforcing their sweeping new internet privacy rules Friday. Sen. Ed Markey says American companies should take note.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, seeks to give individuals more privacy and control over how their data is used by companies on the internet. The law applies to citizens of the EU’s 28 member countries, as well as any company in the world with a digital presence in the EU (which has already led to American websites being blocked in Europe and litigation against tech giants like Facebook and Google).

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Given how United States-based companies are already being forced to comply with the new rules in Europe, Markey says they might as well extend those same safeguards to American citizens.

“The American people are going to wonder why they are getting second-class privacy protections,” said the Massachusetts Democrat. “If companies can afford to protect Europeans’ privacy, they can also afford to do so for their American customers and users.”

Markey’s resolution — introduced Thursday with Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat; and Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent — urges American companies affected by GDPR to provide Americans with the same privacy protections included in the European law.

Those protections include the requirement that companies provide a legal basis and obtain opt-in consent from individuals in order to use their personal data, as well as the right of citizens to request access to or the deletion of their data. They also restrict the amount of processing of user data by companies and require individuals be quickly notified if their data is breached.

“Under the European rules, privacy is not an afterthought, and consumers, not corporations, are in charge of personal information,” Markey said in his statement Thursday. “The American people want and deserve a comprehensive privacy bill of rights, and it is time Congress acts to protect this important 21st century right.”

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The 71-year-old has long made calls for a “privacy bill of rights” in the United States, which he recently renewed in light of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.