What is Driving More State Tech Laws?
January 31, 2023
The U.S. does not have a federal data privacy law. In the absence of an all-encompassing data privacy law, the U.S. has a myriad of individual state privacy laws. The significant state data privacy laws that are often used as models are the California Privacy Rights Act (which amends that California Consumer Privacy Act), the Virginia Consumer Data Privacy Act, the Colorado Privacy Act, and the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The question is why the federal government has been unable to pass a federal data privacy act while some states have been able to pass strong data privacy laws.
A report by the University of North Carolina’s Center on Technology Policy recently addressed that exact question. The UNC Center on Technology Policy found that of the 28 states that have passed laws regulating data privacy and social media platforms, 23 of those states held both the governors’ offices and legislators. Of those 23 states, 13 of the new laws were passed in states controlled by Democrats, and the remaining 10 were passed in states controlled by the Republicans. The reason why states have been more successful in passing data privacy laws is because they have a faster legislative process and are more willing to experiment than the federal government.
However, the same party rule advantage for data privacy legislation did not translate to the federal government over the last two years. Last year, a Democratic Congress failed to pass the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. With the House now held by the Republicans, the prospect of the passage of a federal data privacy law dims even more. Instead, with 38 states now having one party control, it is anticipated that state-level policymaking on tech issues will accelerate. Republican states will likely follow the lead of Texas and Florida in regulating alleged “bias” social media platforms. Democratic states may model “safety by design” laws after laws passed in California. The result will be companies defaulting to the most stringent state laws in order to operate nationally.