Thales BLOG

The Rise of Privacy-by-Design: APRA's Impact on Business Practices

JUNE 20, 2024

Ammar Faheem Ammar Faheem | Product Marketing Manager More About This Author >

When it comes to privacy, the regulatory landscape in the US is a patchwork of laws, where individual states like California lead the way with regulations like its California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and then followed it up with the expanded California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). However, a cohesive federal framework is needed for businesses operating across state lines, as they must navigate a complex web of regulations in each jurisdiction.

The lack of uniformity also complicates compliance efforts, exposing businesses to potential damage to reputation and financial penalties for even minor infractions. Moreover, the sheer volume of data privacy laws and regulations, both domestically and internationally, adds to the burden, making it practically impossible for organizations to stay current with evolving requirements.

In addition, the evolving global regulatory landscape makes it easy to see why comprehensive federal legislation in the US, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is needed.

APRA: A Milestone in the Pursuit of Privacy

With an overarching regulation as the goal, the introduction of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) draft in April 2024 for consideration on both US House and Senate committees is being hailed as a significant milestone in the pursuit of federal privacy legislation. The bill’s bipartisan nature - a joint effort by US House and Senate representatives - is a real opportunity to establish a national data privacy and security standard. It is the latest attempt to establish a data privacy standard following a setback when the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) failed to advance to a vote in June 2022.

At its core, APRA grants individuals the authority to manage their personal information. It addresses key concerns necessary for advancing comprehensive data privacy laws through Congress, allowing Americans to have a say in distributing and commercializing their data. By giving citizens greater control over their data and streamlining regulatory requirements, APRA hopes to alleviate the compliance burden on businesses while boosting consumer trust and confidence.

Key provisions of the bill include the right to access, correction, deletion, and data portability, as well as mechanisms for opting out of certain data processing activities such as targeted advertising. Moreover, US citizens will have the right to opt out of certain data transfers, algorithmic decision-making, and targeted advertising. Businesses will need to put centralized mechanisms in place for consent and preference management.

To ensure compliance, APRA also mandates businesses designate privacy or data security officers charged with implementing privacy programs and upholding regulatory standards. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will act as the watchdog, with a dedicated bureau tasked with overseeing regulatory compliance and investigating violations.

A Rise in State-Level Privacy Laws

The momentum behind APRA can be attributed to the rise of state-level privacy laws triggered by the California Consumer Rights Act (CCPA) enactment. As of January 2024, 14 states in the US have implemented comprehensive privacy laws, with five currently in effect: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, and Utah.

Additional laws in Montana, Oregon, and Texas will take effect this year, while New Jersey, Tennessee, Iowa, Indiana, and Delaware are slated for implementation in 2025. Indiana's law is scheduled for 2026. This trend is expected to continue, as seen by the legislative activity in these states, with others like North Carolina also considering similar bills for future sessions.

States such as New Jersey, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Maryland have also enacted their privacy laws, contributing to a complex regulatory landscape. Recognizing the challenges posed by this fragmented approach, APRA aims to harmonize regulations and establish consistent consumer safeguards nationwide.

Establishing a Uniform Privacy Standard

However, an ongoing bugbear facing APRA is the issue of preemption or the concept that federal laws supersede conflicting state laws in certain areas. If APRA becomes law, it would establish a comprehensive national data privacy and security framework. This raises questions about how APRA would interact with existing and future state-level privacy laws.

One aspect to consider is whether APRA would preempt state laws that provide greater protection for individuals' privacy rights. In other words, if APRA sets a baseline standard for data privacy, would states still be able to enforce stricter regulations?

This preemption issue will likely spark debates among lawmakers, advocates, and industry stakeholders. While advocates argue for a consistent standard nationwide, critics, including the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), caution against stifling states’ ability to enact robust privacy protections.

Balancing these interests will be crucial in shaping the final version of APRA and its impact on the broader landscape of data privacy regulation in the United States.

All Eyes on APRA

Looking ahead, the fate of APRA hinges on its legislative journey. With the bill now under scrutiny in both the House and Senate, its supporters remain optimistic about its potential to become law.

Should APRA navigate the complexities of congressional deliberations successfully, its implementation would mark a significant breakthrough in the evolution of data privacy regulations in the US. APRA's pending legislation is already prompting businesses to acknowledge the importance of proactively developing robust privacy practices and integrating a privacy-by-design philosophy into customer experience strategies.

As stakeholders await the outcome of legislative deliberations, there are proactive steps that businesses can take to prepare for the impending changes. Embracing a privacy-centric approach to customer experience and investing in modern Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) platforms will be crucial for staying ahead of the curve.

By prioritizing privacy, consent, and preference management, businesses can ensure compliance with emerging regulations and enhance customer trust and loyalty in an increasingly data-driven world.