Guarding and Protecting Personal Data

Oct 2, 2020

According to a 2019 Pew Research poll, over 80% of Americans feel as if they have little or no control over the data collected about them online. In addition, over 80% believe that the potential risk of companies collecting data about them outweighs the benefits.

Given these numbers, what can be done to ensure that data collected for legitimate purposes – like underwriting a life insurance policy – is safe and protected?

The insurance industry is proud of its longstanding role as a conscientious and responsible guardian of customers’ vulnerable personal information. Our industry has appropriately managed consumers’ confidential medical and financial information for over 100 years. We remain strongly committed to the proper use and protection of our customers’ personal information.

Members of Congress from both parties have offered various proposals to protect consumers. One recent proposal is the Setting an American Framework to Ensure Data Access, Transparency, and Accountability (SAFE DATA) Act, introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and three of his colleagues.

The SAFE DATA Act is an important step forward in the adoption of a federal privacy framework that balances consumer protections with business needs. The bill pre-empts a patchwork of state laws and provides necessary clarity to both businesses and consumers. For example, this legislation would prevent residents of border communities from having radically different privacy rules than their neighbors across the state line.

ACLI strongly supports unequivocal federal pre-emptive privacy legislation that treats every American equally while providing understandable notice to consumers about the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. We further support the reasonable ability for consumers to have control over their information. And we continue to support the valuable advancement in the use of technology through automated analytics and other innovative processes that are beneficial to consumers.

ACLI appreciates the work of Sen. Wicker and his colleagues on this difficult but hugely consequential undertaking. These Members of Congress are working diligently to ease the concerns a majority of Americans have about data privacy, while looking at ways to adapt and align laws with changing dynamics around data collection and usage.

Paul Kangas

Paul Kangas is Vice President, Financial Services for the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). At ACLI, Paul is primarily responsible for federal legislative and regulatory activity related to financial services reform, data privacy and consumer protections.