Majority Whip Johnny Garrett and Senate Chairman Mike Bell introduce legislation to protect consumer privacy

March 15, 2021

Nashville, Tenn. – House Republican Majority Whip Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, are proposing legislation that protects Tennesseans’ right to privacy and returns control of personal information back to consumers.

The Tennessee Information Protection Act requires large technology companies to fully disclose to consumers what information is being collected about them through their online activities.  The measure significantly increases data privacy and creates new rights for Tennessee consumers.

“Anytime we interact on websites, social media or apps we leave behind personal information that is sold for profit to groups that use it to market their products, ideas or beliefs with targeted ads and we, as consumers are left in the dark about this practice,” Garrett said. “These companies have made a fortune surveilling their users without their permission and selling personal information we require law enforcement to obtain a warrant for.”

The legislation requires online platforms to disclose up-front exactly what personal information will be collected and how they intend to use it. Tennesseans will have the ability to “opt-out” of the selling of their personal information to third parties without discrimination.

The proposal includes protections for biometric data that measures physical characteristics like voice recordings, fingerprints, retinal scans or face recognition.

“What we have seen from big tech companies amounts to surveillance of their customers to enrich themselves through platforms that the consumer believes is free, but rather comes at the high price of their privacy,” Bell said. “This bill has important privacy provisions that give consumers more information so they can make informed choices that will protect their data.”

Companies will be held accountable when they misuse a consumer’s information.  The bill gives the state attorney general authority to impose civil penalties when big tech companies fail to safeguard private data or violate consumer protections.

The proposal applies to companies with a global gross annual revenue of more than $25 million. It includes companies that buy, receives or sells information of more than 50,000 customers, households, devices or anyone that collects more than 50 percent of their global annual revenue from selling customers’ personal information.

The Tennessee Information Protection Act:

  • Requires businesses to publish a privacy policy.
  • Gives consumers the right to know what information a business has collected about them.
  • Requires businesses to allow consumers to “opt-out” of the sale of personal information to third parties.
  • Limits a business’ use and retention of personal information.
  • Gives the Attorney General power to enforce.

For information about this legislation contact Majority Whip Garrett or Chairman Mike Bell at rep.johnny.garrett@capitol.tn.gov  sen.mike.bell@capitol.tn.gov