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The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
Concerns have recently been raised over The Tennessee Information Protection Act, legislation that aims to protect the privacy and security of Tennesseans by putting a stop to Big Tech’s private data collection efforts within the state.
This year’s House Bill 1181 (HB1181) brought by Rep. Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville-District 45) is reportedly a culmination of work by state legislators over the past two to three years and is meant to regulate companies that engage in private data collection and the sale of that data.
Friends of Hamilton, a citizen group out of Ooltewah, Tennessee that focuses on Constitutionality, has brought up a few concerns regarding HB1181 and its corresponding Senate Bill, SB0073, sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson-District 11).
Section 47-18-3210 of the bill contains a lengthy list of exemptions, most of which are already regulated in some way.
Rep. Garrett stated the legislation is meant to focus on where “there’s not already a state or federal law that covers your interaction with a business.”
Although Founder and President of Friends of Hamilton, Chris Matthews finds it questionable that each U.S. Code relevant to these exemptions is not explicitly stated within the bill text like in California’s Consumer Privacy Act, several acts are specifically named as reasons for exemption.
The more general terms “state law” and “federal law” are also used throughout the bill text.
Another concern brought up by Matthews was regarding the exemptions provided to bodies, agencies and political subdivisions of the state, entities under the Department of Health’s governance, non-profits, and institutions of higher education.
On that note, Rep. Garrett maintains that he doesn’t want to doubly regulate certain entities. This would be the case with exemptions “(6) an institution of higher education” and “(7) protected health information under HIPAA” when it comes to acts like FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Another concern regards a subsection of exemption (10), which includes personal information involving “human subjects research conducted in accordance with good clinical practice guidelines issued by The International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use,” an organization associated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for research and regulatory purposes.
Despite how little trust the pharmaceutical industry may warrant, this particular exemption is also meant to be regulated by existing applicable law.
Concern was also noted on exemption “(16) The collection, maintenance, disclosure, sale, communication, or use of personal information bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, [and/or] credit standing” by a consumer reporting agency.
Friends of Hamilton view this to be a long-winded version of a “social credit score” however, this exemption is further stated to be “regulated by and authorized under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
If The Tennessee Information Protection Act is meant to add certain private data protections to Tennessee law, the present exemptions do not seem to prevent this legislation from achieving that goal.
This bill seems to be a step in the right direction, placing some regulation on currently unregulated fields and outlining via exemptions, related fields and what are meant to be their existing regulations.
At the time of this article’s publication, SB0073, as amended, awaits consideration on the Senate floor and HB1181 has been scheduled for consideration by the House Commerce Committee on March 28th, 2023.
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at email@example.com.