WR asks Uniform Law Commission to reconsider privacy enforcement provisions

Jul 8, 2021
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) is attempting to draft state model data privacy legislation – the Uniform Personal Data Protection Act.

Data privacy is one of WR’s top issues because it touches every retailer and every customer. WR continues to advocate for a national solution from Congress that would create a regulatory protection plan that is easy to understand and implement rather than a patchwork of differing state laws. In the absence of that, we support consistent state privacy laws.

While we appreciate the ULC’s work to craft a bill that states can use to ensure consistency across boundaries, WR and many other associations have considerable concerns about the enforcement provisions, which could ultimately lead to private rights of action. PRAs create unequal treatment and fosters uncertainty from district to district. Class action lawsuits based on technical violations with no actual consumer harm have been shown to have adverse effects on surrounding communities by draining judicial resources, stifling business growth, and limiting the availability of technological innovation to state residents. The problem is that data privacy is unlike other consumer protection violations. This is a technically advanced and rapidly changing area of law. It deserves special focus by a state agency with the resources to properly investigate and, if necessary, litigate charges.

WR has joined a coalition of business associations led by the U.S. Chamber in asking the ULC to rework Section 16 of the UDPA to better reflect the effectiveness and realities of enforcement—namely, allowing sole Attorney General enforcement—as a more prudent way of approaching potential violations.

WR is ready and interested in working with all stakeholders in crafting solutions that protect sensitive private data of individuals while allowing retailers to maintain a high level of customer service that shoppers have come to expect and demand.