A measure was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that aims to create another agency on par with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but for regulatory oversight of data.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced her renewed legislation — the Data Protection Act of 2021 — would create the Data Protection Agency (DPA), an independent federal agency that, according to the New York Democrat, would protect Americans’ data, safeguard their privacy, and ensure data practices are fair and transparent.

First introduced last year, Gillibrand explained in a news release that the updated legislation has undergone significant improvements, including:

— Updated provisions to protect against privacy harms and discrimination

— Overseeing the use of high-risk data practices

— Examine and propose remedies for the social, ethical, and economic impacts of data collection.

Additionally, Gillibrand said the DPA would have the authority and resources to effectively enforce data protection rules — created either by itself or Congress — and would be equipped with a broad range of enforcement tools, including civil penalties, injunctive relief and equitable remedies.

The lawmaker went on to say the DPA would promote data protection and privacy innovation across public and private sectors, developing model privacy and data protection standards, guidelines, and policies for use by the private sector.

The U.S. is one of the only democracies, and the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), without a federal data protection agency.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, is an original co-sponsor of the Data Protection Act.

“In today’s digital age, Big Tech companies are free to sell individuals’ data to the highest bidder without fear of real consequences, posing a severe threat to modern-day privacy and civil rights. A data privacy crisis is looming over the everyday lives of Americans and we need to hold these bad actors accountable,” Gillibrand said.

“It’s critical that we modernize the way we handle technology, which is why I first introduced the Data Protection Act last year, in order to create an executive agency whose sole job is to protect data and privacy,” she continued. “The new and improved DPA of 2021 takes on even bigger and bolder reforms, including provisions to help the DPA address Big Tech mergers, penalize high-risk data practices, and establish a DPA Office of Civil Rights.

“The U.S. needs a new approach to privacy and data protection and it’s Congress’ duty to step forward and seek answers that will give Americans meaningful protection from private companies that value profits over people,” Gillibrand went on to say.

And Brown, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, added these points.

“Facebook, YouTube, and other big tech companies have abused millions of users’ data, and paying fines has become part of the cost of doing business,” Brown said. “We need stronger protections for people’s personal data. That means a robust independent data protection agency like the CFPB, with the tools and resources to protect people’s data and privacy.”

A synopsis of the proposal is available on this website while the entire Senate measure can be downloaded via this page.