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Why Ohio's data privacy bill is on hold for now

a man types on his computer
A bill that defines who can access privacy data from the internet and what can be done with the data is on hold at the Ohio Statehouse.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that’s meant to protect data of Ohioans. The legislation spells out who can access data and how they can do it. But the bill has been put on hold right now.

Every time you go online, you leave a footprint of data. Gary Daniels with the American Civil Liberties Union refers to electronic data this way.

“Some people talk about this as the oil of the 21st Century,” Daniels said.

The Republican sponsor of the bill to put guardrails on electronic data says it’s a big deal and a big bill. And that’s why Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) decided to pull the "Ohio Personal Privacy Act" back from an Ohio House Government Oversight committee vote Thursday. The legislation requires businesses to make changes in the way they handle the data of customers and mandates businesses give customers more information about how their data could be shared. It also requires businesses to provide information to customers about how they can opt-out of that data sharing. Carfagna says there's a lot there for lawmakers to review before voting.

“Our members simply want more time to digest the issue. They want to see some transparency, and they want to understand what it is they’re voting on and what are the consequences back home with this,” Carfagna said.

Some people testified at a committee hearing on the bill Wednesday that they would like to see more changes because the bill doesn't go far enough to protect consumers. Gary Daniels with the ACLU of Ohio told lawmakers consumers need more options to deal with companies that violate data sharing rules. Daniels characterizes the current bill as being "too friendly" to the tech industry.

Carfagna says the bill has undergone changes at least 10 times in the legislative process, and he expects it will go through more changes as it progresses through the Senate. The bill could be ready for a vote early next year.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.