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Biden White House Seen Interested in Federal Digital Privacy Law, but Harris Is a 'Wild Card': Brotman

A Biden-Harris White House is more likely to take an interest in digital privacy legislation than a second Trump administration but may also be more reluctant preempt state privacy initiatives, said University of Tennessee professor and Media Institute fellow Stuart…

Brotman during the institute’s Virtual Communications Forum Thursday. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is considered amenable to federal privacy legislation and could pursue it in his first year, but Harris’ background in that arena make her a “wild card,” Brotman said. President Donald Trump's administration has “shown very little interest” in federal privacy laws, Brotman said. Harris as California’s attorney general was active in getting that state’s privacy law -- the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) -- approved. That means she’s experienced in the issue and could spearhead a Biden administration privacy push, but a federal digital privacy law would likely need to preempt the state law she previously worked on, he said. Further complicating the matter is California's Proposition 24, the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative, Brotman said. Proposition 24 is also on the ballot in November, and if approved would make the CCPA more robust, he said. If Proposition 24 is approved, federal privacy legislation would likely require preempting it, pitting Harris against rules voted by her former constituents, Brotman said. If a Biden administration doesn’t pursue federal privacy legislation to avoid preempting state rules, that could create an environment where more states seek to create their own rules as California and Maine have, Brotman said. That's also a possibility under a second Trump administration, Brotman said. Since a Trump White House is seen unlikely to pursue a federal privacy law, it could create room for states to make their own, he said.