February 05, 2021

Senators Cortez Masto, Fischer and Reps. Stevens, Gonzalez Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Online Data Privacy

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) as well as Representatives Haley Stevens (MI-11) and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) introduced the Promoting Digital Privacy Technologies Act in both the Senate and House. This legislation would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote research into privacy enhancing technologies (PET) and develop standards for integration of PETs into public and private sector data use to ensure that Americans continue to reap the rewards of data analysis while also protecting their most sensitive information.

“Digital data can be as personal and private as our social security number or information about our personal health,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “We must work to strike a healthy balance between privacy and innovation. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation helps us achieve that goal by researching ways in which privacy-enhancing technologies can complement emerging technologies of the 21st century. With our digital footprint growing each day, I’ll continue working across the aisle to ensure that the industry standards of tomorrow are cognizant of Americans’ digital privacy.”   

“The growth of large-scale data analysis is driving innovation in areas ranging from health care to transportation to agriculture. However, we need to ensure that these data collection practices are not putting the private information of Americans at risk. By promoting research into PETs, this bipartisan legislation will help us to make the most out of developments in big data while safeguarding Americans’ right to privacy,” said Senator Fischer.

“I am proud to partner with my colleagues from the Senate, across the aisle and industry as we work together to enhance privacy protections for our constituents,” said Representative Stevens. “It is high time that we research ways in which privacy enhancing technologies can be utilized to protect Americans’ most sensitive and personal data.”

“The increased advancements in the use of data has helped spur new innovations and advancements in our economy. However, these advancements have also raised legitimate questions and concerns about how to best protect Americans’ personal data,” said Representative Gonzalez. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Promoting Digital Privacy Technologies Act that will improve the integration of privacy enhancing technologies (PET) in daily businesses and governmental processes to better safeguard Americans’ most sensitive information.” 

“Additional research into privacy enhancing technologies will help to safeguard personal data, while allowing companies to build solutions with increased privacy and security. We thank each of the bill’s sponsors for introducing this important legislation, which will support responsible innovation and help to protect consumer privacy,” said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft.

A copy of the bill text can be viewed HERE.


The Promoting Digital Privacy Technologies Act requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research into privacy enhancing technologies (PET), including:

  • Fundamental research on PET technologies.
  • Fundamental research into the mathematics that underlie PETs.
  • Fundamental research into technologies that promote data minimization principles.
  • Research in coordination with other relevant agencies.

The legislation also integrates this mission with the NSF’s Computer and Network Security Program and requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to work with academic, public, and private sectors to develop and establish voluntary consensus standards for the integration of PET into business and governmental applications, including working with NIH and CDC to increase responsible public health research.

Finally, the Promoting Digital Privacy Technologies Act requires reports to Congress on progress with research and standard setting every two years.

Senator Cortez Masto is a strong advocate for enhancing Americans’ data privacy. In February of 2019, as part of her Innovation State Initiative, the Senator introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency to Advance (DATA) Privacy Actlegislation that would strengthen data privacy protections for American consumers and ensure corporations are focusing on implementing new data security standards and essential privacy protections. She is also a cosponsor of the Data Care Act, which would require websites, apps, and other online providers to take responsible steps to safeguard personal information and stop the misuse of users’ data.