Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 22, 2019


Americans today enjoy more purchasing options, higher-quality products, and lower out-of-pocket costs than ever before. Our consumer-friendly marketplace has helped drive the last several years of economic growth, while improving the health and well-being of men and women across the country.

And what has made this possible? In a word, data.

Data-driven innovation is empowering Americans by expanding access to education and health care, as well as entrepreneurial and employment opportunities. It’s helping small business owners streamline their operations, farmers increase their crop yields, and medical professionals save lives.

Data fuels our information economy and is an integral part of 21st century life. Smartphones are the perfect example. These devices have more computing power than the NASA rockets that sent a man to the moon. They are treasure troves of personal information that make our lives infinitely more convenient – but also more complicated and susceptible to risk. And it’s the need to protect this personal information that has pushed the issue of data privacy to the fore.

Data privacy is a new frontier for regulation. In fact, all 50 states are racing to regulate how companies use data. To be sure, it’s in everyone’s interest to safeguard business and consumer data. But it must be done in a way that promotes innovation, provides regulatory certainty, and respects individual privacy and choice.

That’s why earlier this month the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted Data Done Right, a national technology summit that convened business leaders from a cross-section of industries to build support for smart solutions, including the Chamber’s draft data privacy legislation. Our proposal for a nationwide data privacy policy puts consumers first by allowing them to see and control how their personal information is being used.

It’s not often that the Chamber asks for more regulation – much less writes it. But federal regulation in this arena is desperately needed to eliminate a patchwork of state privacy laws that would make interstate commerce and a seamless experience for Americans all but impossible. If we fail to act now on a national level, a flurry of conflicting state regulations will fill the void.

Also, creating a coherent and consistent privacy policy would preclude the lawsuit bonanza that would ensue without one. By establishing clear rules of the road, we can better protect individual privacy and avoid a 50-car pileup in the courtroom.

Responsible use of personal information is the linchpin of trust in today’s tech-driven economy. That’s why the Chamber will continue working to advance a national privacy framework to protect company and consumer data.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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