May. 26, 2022

HARRISBURG – As efforts continue to protect every Pennsylvanian’s personal data, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss Rep. Rob Mercuri’s (R-Allegheny) legislation which would require larger companies and personal information aggregators (i.e., big tech) to share more information with consumers about what data of theirs is gathered, tracked and sold. 

When information such as names, addresses, geolocation, Social Security number, driver’s license number, biometric information or email address, is harvested, bought and sold, Mercuri believes everyone has a right to understand that information and to access it.
“Our personal data about what we buy, where we surf on the internet, what we click, where we drive and our habits as humans are the new oil in the economy because it is valuable and extractable,” said Mercuri. “As Pennsylvania legislators, it is important for us to recognize this and build appropriate guardrails for our citizens. This bill does just that by giving consumers three legal rights regarding their data: the right to know, the right to remove and the right to opt out.” 

During the hearing, testifiers noted that data privacy legislation needs to be a collaborative effort and said states such as Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia could be used as guidance on how Pennsylvania should move forward.

Ryan Harkins, senior director of Public Policy at Microsoft, mentioned that efforts to self-regulate by industry have not worked in the eyes of the public.

“The industry has lost the trust of the public to a large extent,” said Harkins. “In our view, the only way to start earning that trust back is to have credible reform and new laws passed. With complex legislation like privacy, you can always pick at a provision here or there. At bottom, we think House Bill 2202 is a thoughtful approach and would be a dramatic step forward for consumer privacy.”

“The goal of Wednesday’s hearing was to learn from industry stakeholders about the impact of our data privacy proposal, so that we might enhance the quality of the law and right size it so that the business community and other stakeholders experience minimal impact from the law,” said Mercuri. “Let’s be clear, data privacy regulation is an inevitability. It is imperative that we move expeditiously towards passage of privacy laws. I would like to thank the committee members and testifiers for their productive discussion on this issue, and I look forward to getting my bill across the finish line.”

To view Rep. Mercuri’s remarks, click here.

Representative Robert Mercuri
28th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Nate Temple