Press Release

Welch Highlights Need for Independent Tech Agency to Protect Small Business and Consumer Data 

May 13, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing last week, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) highlighted the need to establish a new and independent federal agency through the Digital Platform Commission Act to regulate the tech sector to better protect consumer data and address emerging cybersecurity concerns. Senator Welch also questioned experts about ways to help individuals and small businesses implement affordable cybersecurity protections to safeguard their data.   

“I hear you saying there should be a national standard. What does that mean for small businesses that just don’t have the financial wherewithal to be able to bear that burden? And how would those recommended protections be integrated affordably, organically, and to systems that a small mom and pop business might deploy?” asked Senator Welch

In response to questioning, Prem Trivedi, Policy Director at New America’s Open Technology Institute testified that a national standard should contain a “strong set of practices, but there should of course be flexibility in how businesses of varying sizes comply with it.”   

Senator Welch also questioned the experts on the need for an independent commission to oversee Big Tech: “We can’t keep up with all the changes and all the methodologies by which there is hacking. Even those who are far more expert in Congress on technology issues I don’t think can keep up with it. Senator Bennet and I think the time has come where we actually need an agency – a digital commission, much like say the FTC or the FCC, that is properly staffed, properly resourced and has the capacity to keep up…Do you have any thoughts on the wisdom of having such an entity that would have as its ongoing challenge protecting privacy and considering other issues related to tech?” 

Experts highlighted ongoing efforts at the state-level to establish independent tech privacy agencies, and the reality of implementing a national data privacy standard. 

Watch the Senator’s remarks here

Earlier this Congress, Senator Welch and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the Digital Platform Commission Act, a bill to establish a new, independent agency with the mandate, jurisdiction, and tools to develop and enforce rules on the tech space.  

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