State Rep. Michael D’Agostino outlining a privacy bill for state consumers that passed with bipartisan support.

By Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror,org

The state House of Representatives voted 144-5 Thursday for final passage of a data privacy bill that will put Connecticut in the growing ranks of states trying to fill a void created by congressional inaction.

The measure cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote last week, a seemingly easy approval that came after nearly two years of intense negotiations with local and national business interests and consumer protection advocates.

Senate Bill 6 will let consumers see which companies are collecting their data and opt out of sales or sharing of that information. Consumers under 16 would have to opt in to data collection.

“The data you can purchase is shocking,” said state Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, the co-chairman of the General Law Committee and lead sponsor in the House.

The bill is a recognition of the ubiquity of data collection. Our phones and smart watches silently record our movements. Our purchases and internet and TV habits are logged. 

It gives consumers the ability to opt out on the collection of relatively benign data, such as their favorite television shows or dessert. It requires an opt in for more sensitive data to be tracked, such locator data.

Companies can continue to collect data used exclusively for the improvement of their products, so long as that data is not shared with third parties.

The measure also creates a working group to consider further steps.

The attorney general would be able to sue violators of the new law, not consumers. State Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, described that as a shortcoming that places government between consumers and entities in which they had an implied or explicit contract.

Five Republicans voted against the bill: Fishbein, Whit Betts of Bristol, Anne Dauphinais of Killingly, Donna Veach of Berlin and David Wilson of Litchfield.