Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Roy Wyman and Colton Driver authored an article published by Law360 discussing the need for the federal government to enact data privacy laws, even if it is likely to have significant problems.

“While the rest of the world, and some individual U.S. states, have moved ahead with comprehensive data privacy statues, the U.S. federal government thus far has failed to pass a law covering all industries throughout the country, and some significant roadblocks remain to passage of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, or ADPPA, introduced in June, or any similar bill,” Roy and Colton wrote. “The problem, of course, is that businesses can’t keep up. For multistate – not to mention multinational – organizations, the legal landscape has become a zombie apocalypse.”

Different industries have enacted their own data privacy laws for U.S. businesses, like HIPAA for healthcare, and several states are creating their own laws with varying requirements. This patchwork of data privacy regulation creates enormous costs, confusion and headwinds to businesses and the economy generally, and the current laws fall far short of their purpose to effectively protect the privacy of personal information.

While federal legislation will fall into the same challenges of legislating such an abstract concept and keeping up with fast development of technology, the hope for federal legislation is that it would create consistent rules across all states and industries. To make the federal legislation less of a potential disaster, the authors suggest that it would need to preempt state laws and address the inconsistencies that would be created by allowing industry-specific laws to continue to exist.

After highlighting several pitfalls the legislation should avoid, Roy and Colton conclude that we shouldn’t let rationality get in the way of optimism, especially given the desperate need for a consistent regulatory framework for businesses across the country. In addition to mitigating the costs of complying with 50+ data privacy laws and better protecting user data with standardized practices, a federal privacy law will also improve chances of crafting effective international policy and strengthening relationships with longstanding allies. “In a world where data has become king, privacy is a new diplomatic frontier.”

The full article, “A Federal Data Privacy Law is the Disaster We Urgently Need,” was published by Law360 on August 24 and is available online or you may access the full content in the PDF provided.