Is there going to be a nationwide policy on data privacy?

Hard to say. Several bills have been introduced in Congress but they have not advanced very far. Microsoft has announced that it will make the privacy controls required under California law available to all its customers in the United States. If lots of companies follow suit, California’s law could become the de facto standard nationwide. 

But business groups are still pushing for a national law that would override state laws. Internet companies and advertisers have each made proposals.

“It’s going to be unworkable to have a balkanized approach to data privacy,” said Dan Jaffe, an executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. “But what a national law will look like is up in the air.”

Privacy advocates hope any law that comes out of Washington will use California’s provisions as a baseline.

“If they want to add regulations we are OK with it, but not with repealing any piece of the California Consumer Privacy Act,” said privacy campaign spokeswoman Robin Swanson.

No matter what, it seems California is bound to shape any national policy that may emerge, not only as the home of Silicon Valley but also as home of both Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“They would be hard pressed to override a law that gives rights to Californians,” Swanson said.