Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Sept. 18 expressed general support for Federal data legislation to protect consumer privacy and to preempt state-level data privacy laws, but also cautioned that she does not want to see the U.S. copy the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) framework.

“There are already a lot of ideas out there,” Sen. Blackburn said at ForumGlobal’s Data Privacy event, where she argued against the wisdom of separate state regulation on privacy. “So many, in fact, that here in the states we’re on the verge of watching a patchwork of state-level regulations begin to take shape … 50 regulators with 50 sets of regulations and 50 different approaches – you all know nothing is going to be easy when it comes to working through that type of patchwork.”

The senator went on to say she sees a few “trouble spots” within the EU’s GDPR, including cost issues and other hurdles for smaller startups.

“By now we all know that complying with the GDPR cost an absolute fortune and that has presented two problems,” she said. “One is that bigger companies are happy to comply because that means they can field excellent [public relations] for putting their customers first. But really what they’re doing is writing the check and then checking a box. It also creates a barrier to entry for smaller companies and all but freezes out startups.”

Because of those issues, Sen. Blackburn said, small companies and startups would be more willing to skirt regulations than to get pushed out of the market place by large tech companies.

Sen. Blackburn, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Tech Task Force, went on to say that tech companies with deeper pockets have suggested to the committee that a list of rules would be effective, rather than blazing their own trails on privacy. The senator added, however, that she doesn’t feel it is the Federal government’s job to police “bad customer service.”

“The way I see it, my job is to create an effective piece of legislation that ensures everyone involved knows what is expected of them,” she said. “Consumers will no longer have to rely on their own savvy to protect their private data.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.