Center for American Progress

CAP Authors Letter Addressing Public Interest Research in the American Privacy Rights Act

CAP Authors Letter Addressing Public Interest Research in the American Privacy Rights Act

The Center for American Progress authored a letter to Congress about improving researcher access in the American Privacy Rights Act federal data privacy bill.

On May 20, 2024, the Center for American Progress sent a letter on behalf of 15 researchers and organizations to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), chair of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, highlighting concerns about researcher access in the April discussion draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA).

The ARPA discussion draft grouped public interest research with company research, mandated the deidentification of data, and limited access to only data previously collected under the act. CAP’s letter expresses concerns that the discussion draft of the APRA might inadvertently limit the capabilities of public interest researchers under the bill. It recommends revisiting and clarifying the language in the public research exception, specifically proposing alignment with the language and provisions found in Section 101(b)(10) of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which offers a more balanced approach to handling research data while ensuring privacy.

On May 22, 2024, a new draft of the APRA was introduced ahead of the subcommittee markup on May 23, which made changes to the previous discussion draft. The introductory draft adopted the letter’s recommendations that provisions be more clearly defined and support the role of public interest research, emphasizing compliance with legal standards and the necessity for affirmative express consent when handling sensitive data. This change highlights the recognition of public interest research as a distinct and valuable activity. The revision is a commendable step toward facilitating responsible research that can contribute to informed policymaking without compromising individual privacy.

Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) entered the letter from CAP into the hearing record.

Click here to read the full sign-on letter.

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Nicole Alvarez

Senior Policy Analyst


Technology Policy

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