Senate Democrats introduce bill to protect your online data

The Data Care Act seeks to "stop the misuse" of users' personal information.

A group of 15 Democratic senators have unveiled a bill that aims to protect your online data. They noted that banks, doctors and lawyers are all required to protect your personal information, and argue websites, apps and other online services should also have to "take responsible steps to safeguard personal information and stop the misuse of users' data."

"People have a basic expectation that the personal information they provide to websites and apps is well-protected and won't be used against them," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications Technology, Innovation and the Internet, said in a release. "Our bill will help make sure that when people give online companies their information, it won't be exploited."

The Data Care Act, should it come into law as it stands, would require companies to protect your information and promptly tell users about data breaches involving sensitive data; to "not use individual identifying data in ways that harm users;" and make sure third-party businesses do the same when companies which hold your data sell or share it.

The Federal Trade Commission would have the power to enforce such rules, and could impose civil penalties against companies that mishandle data. Along with Schatz, the bill's sponsors include Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Online privacy is firmly in Washington's spotlight, with top executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google among those testifying before committees in recent months. Meanwhile, a separate GDPR-style privacy draft bill may also arrive early next year -- though the Data Care Act seems to ape some of the European legislation's tough rules.