Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

Manufacturers Call for Swift Action on Data Privacy

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Manufacturing Workers With Computers

California’s new sweeping data privacy law will go into effect in the New Year, highlighting the need for Congress to act quickly on federal legislation to provide certainty for the manufacturing industry. While manufacturers work to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act, the industry is also concerned that other states will pursue their own privacy legislation, creating a patchwork of laws. Complying with conflicting state privacy laws will be costly for manufacturers, but a national approach to data privacy will strengthen manufacturers and support consumers.

Congress recently examined various approaches to federal consumer data privacy legislation at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. Industry took the opportunity to call for swift action.

“U.S. privacy law has generally failed to keep pace with advances in technology and to provide Americans with the protections they want and need in this digital age,” said Julie Brill, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, and Chief Privacy Officer. “Today more than ever, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive U.S. privacy law that provides strong protections for all consumers in the United States within a framework that enables human ingenuity and American innovation to continue to thrive.”

Echoing Microsoft’s call, the National Association of Manufacturers underscored the need for congressional action to support manufacturers in a letter to the Committee. Manufacturers are developing innovative products and transforming the manufacturing process with the latest technologies, and data is an important source and by product of these breakthroughs. Manufacturers use data to improve efficiency, safeguard plant security and improve customer experience.

State-by-state privacy requirements would create burdensome regulations that hinder the development of new technologies and products. According to NAM’s Director of Innovation Policy Stephanie Hall, federal legislation would streamline the compliance picture for manufacturers while advancing individuals’ privacy and promoting U.S. industrial competitiveness.

“Manufacturers support a data privacy policy that provides flexibility for innovation, addresses domestic and global inconsistencies in privacy regulations and advances U.S. economic growth and technological leadership,” Hall said.  “Without clarity from federal law, uncertainty will continue for our industry, causing manufacturers to sort through conflicting state privacy laws across the country.”

The U.S. is facing a data-intensive future, and manufacturers are leading the development and application of emerging technologies, including automation and artificial intelligence. Congress must act quickly to pass comprehensive legislation that provides uniform privacy rules and helps prepare the U.S. for the next generation of innovative technologies.

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