The following statement can be attributed to Chris Mohr, President, Software & Information Industry Association on remarks presented by Samuel Levine, Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection at the recent 2023 Consumer Data Industry Association Law & Industry Conference on data brokers.

As the leading trade association for the information industry, SIIA supports privacy regulations applying to many of Director Levine’s concerns around sensitive data and its uses, as well as safeguarding First Amendment-protected free speech. In fact, we have repeatedly advocated for a strong, preemptive federal privacy law that provides clear and consistent protections for consumers and predictable requirements for businesses.

However, although abuses certainly occur, data brokers’ products and services largely enable commerce, prevent crime, and provide the building blocks of ideas: the invisible backbone of functioning markets and a functioning democracy. Far from being malicious, the end uses of this data often provide valuable services consumers have come to take for granted. The public domain that enables law enforcement investigation, investigative journalism, and fraud prevention in which “data brokers” engage is a direct result of constitutional design and protected free expression.

We encourage the FTC not to conflate constitutionally protected publishing activity with real privacy or other harms the Bureau is empowered to prevent. We also caution against well-intentioned data broker legislation that is overbroad in its application, as the First Amendment creates challenges in grouping all “data brokers” into one category. As written, bills such as the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act would go well beyond preventing law enforcement from accessing Fourth Amendment-protected data, and needlessly stymie investigations and preventative law enforcement efforts that keep Americans safe.