Lott Invokes Procedural Rule to Delay Online Privacy Bill in Senate; Future of Legislation in Doubt
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) yesterday invoked a procedural rule to delay debate on an online privacy bill (S 2201) that would protect personal information, including individuals' medical records, the New York Times reports (Clymer, New York Times, 5/17). The Online Personal Privacy Act, sponsored by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), would require Web sites and Internet service providers to disclose their information collection practices and inform users of changes and would allow users to review information collected about them. In addition, the bill would allow users to sue Web sites for privacy violations at $5,000 per violation in cases where they can prove damages (California Healthline, 4/18). The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the legislation yesterday on a 15-8 vote and planned to report the bill to the floor, but Lott invoked a Senate rule that prohibits committees from "meeting for more than two hours after the Senate convenes and votes." The committee may send the legislation to the floor as early as today, but the Times reports that "Lott's intense opposition indicates that it may be difficult for the bill even to be debated on the Senate floor" (New York Times, 5/17). Lott invoked the procedural rule after the committee rejected several Republican-sponsored amendments to the legislation. One of the amendments would have exempted businesses that must adhere to other privacy regulations, including the HIPAA medical privacy rule. Other amendments would have eliminated individuals' right to sue and would have expanded the legislation to cover non-Internet companies (Dreazen, Wall Street Journal, 5/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.