Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said today he plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit online service providers from collecting data from consumers “any data that is beyond what is necessary for the companies’ online services.”

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the digital advertising ecosystem and the impact of data privacy and competition policy, the senator said the legislation would “put the ball in the consumers’ court … and give them the right to control their data,” and prevent online companies from selling consumer data.

Sen. Hawley said the Federal Trade Commission had endorsed such a policy in the past, but added it was “voluntary” and had not been followed by “dominant platforms” in the industry.

The bill would: allow people to sign onto a do-not-track list; prohibit profiling and discrimination of people on the list; ban online companies from transferring user data to another company unless the first company is an “intended intermediary”; force service providers to disclose to users their rights under the law; and impose “strict penalties” for violating the law’s provisions.

In a May 20 announcement, Hawley described himself as a “top critic of big tech’s data collection practice.”

“Big tech companies collect incredible amounts of deeply personal, private data from people without giving them the option to meaningfully consent,” he said. “They have gotten incredibly rich by employing creepy surveillance tactics on their users, but too often the extent of this data extraction is only known after a tech company irresponsibly handles the data and leaks it all over the internet.”

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