Vermont Close to Passing Landmark Data Privacy Legislation

All session long, VPIRG and our members have been advocating for H.764 – better known as the Data Broker Bill.

Data brokers are third party companies (like Equifax) that buy and sell your personal information without your knowledge. You don’t interact with these companies and would probably be surprised to learn that they may have in-depth profiles on you.

Earlier this week, the Senate gave unanimous approval (30 to 0) to H.764. The House had previously approved the bill earlier this year. This bill will soon be heading to both the House and Senate for a final up-or-down vote.

If passed, this bill would: eliminate fees to place a security freeze on your credit history after a data breach like Equifax; make it illegal to acquire Vermonters’ information for malicious purposes; require data brokers to adhere to a minimum data security standard and make Vermont the first state to require data brokers to formally register so that Vermonters can better understand who is buying and selling their personal information.

These are reasonable steps that will provide Vermonters more information about data brokers’ practices and give Vermonters better protections against future breaches — but the data broker industry is fighting this legislation tooth and nail.

The governor has hinted that he may veto the legislation because it requires data brokers like Equifax (who reported $489 million in profits in 2016) to pay a $100 annual fee to operate the data broker registry.

But the governor may reconsider if the bill receives overwhelming support in the legislature. That’s why VPIRG is encouraging our members to call the State House at 1-800-322-5616 and let your legislators know you want them to support H.764 – the data broker bill.

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