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Consumer Reports calls on Tennessee to improve new privacy law for consumers

NASHVILLE, TN Governor Bill Lee has signed a consumer data privacy bill (SB 73), into law, despite objections from consumer advocates. 

Consumer Reports is urging the Volunteer State to make amendments to the law during its next session. Such amendments should strengthen the existing law to better safeguard the privacy of Tennessee residents. 

While SB 73 includes some basic consumer rights for Tennesseans, such as the right to know the information companies have collected about them, the right to delete that information, and the right to limit some data disclosures, it includes numerous loopholes that undercut its protections. Notably, the bill’s consumer rights do not apply to pseudonymous information, such as most online cookies, rendering the right to opt-out of targeted advertising largely meaningless. It also offers no universal opt-out or authorized agent provisions, and it has insufficient enforcement mechanisms. 

“SB 73 creates far too many opportunities for tech companies to avoid offering consumers the protections that it claims to provide,” said Matt Schwartz, policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “The definitions of sale and targeted advertising, as well as the pseudonymous data exemption and enforcement framework should all be reworked to provide Tennessee consumers the protections they deserve. Aside from that, privacy legislation, at a minimum, should include an easy way to opt-out of data sales and tracking, such as through a universal opt-out mechanism. Without amendments to these key areas, this new law will not meaningfully move consumer privacy forward.”

SB 73 is the eighth comprehensive state privacy law, following laws in California, Utah, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana.