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Data Privacy Bill Passes US House Panel

A new bipartisan privacy bill has been passed by a U.S. House of Representatives panel looking to limit collection of personal data, Reuters reported Thursday (June 23), though it may not become a law.

The bill would make it so Meta, Google and several other companies would only be able to collect personal data necessary to provide services, and nothing else. Other information would be more protected, including extra for sensitive things like social security numbers.

The measure passed a voice vote for the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, and it will now go to the full committee for another vote.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, both Democrats, are the lead sponsors of the bill, along with Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Gus Bilirakis.

The fate of the bill isn’t certain yet, as it has some criticisms from big-name Senate Democrats like Sen. Maria Cantwell. She believes the bill’s enforcement is not strong enough.

There have been other attempts to pass privacy legislation, though they were blocked by a mass wall of opposition from tech companies, whose free services come from using consumer data for advertising.

The debate over these bills had focused primarily on whether federal legislation would preempt state laws, which have been stronger in the past. They also looked into whether individuals could sue in the case of privacy violations.

The controversy over privacy violations and tech has been going on for years now as companies have had to reckon with their choices. For example, Microsoft has decided to quit selling facial recognition tech in an “unfettered” manner from now on.

Read more: Microsoft Limits Facial Recognition Technology Use, Sales

The tech giant is also ending the sale of tech that guesses emotions based on a facial image. Customers have a year left before they lose access to the company’s tools.

The tools, according to Microsoft, can guess things like emotion, gender, age, smile and other such things based on a readout.

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