Participants on a panel organized by the free-market R Street Institute agreed that Congress should strive to enact a comprehensive federal privacy law as a way to help ensure the safe and secure introduction of artificial intelligence technologies, rather than trying to bolster privacy protections through AI-focused legislation.

The introduction of generative AI has “elevated” the privacy issue but the “first step” for lawmakers should be passage of a comprehensive privacy bill with data minimization and other provisions that address concerns around AI’s impact on individual rights and data security, according to R Street’s Brandon Pugh.

He appeared on an Oct. 25 panel, “Data Privacy and Security as a National Security Imperative,” along with Jessica Dawson of the Army Cyber Institute and Sam Kaplan of Palo Alto Networks, moderated by Sam Sabin of Axios. It also included a keynote by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency executive assistant director for cyber Eric Goldstein…

A comprehensive privacy bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year but never advanced to the floor. It was not considered in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has launched a bipartisan process to develop AI legislation and in September said enactment of a privacy law wasn’t a necessary precursor to action on AI legislation. He said AI bills addressing different policy areas would also include privacy elements.

But some key congressional Republicans including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) say federal privacy legislation would be the way to address AI issues of concern that aren’t already covered under existing law.

“The ADPPA would’ve done a lot,” R Street’s Pugh said, noting in particular its data minimization provisions. He also urged policymakers to keep in mind the cybersecurity benefits of AI, such as “better assessing malware” and degrading the capabilities of adversaries, before acting on legislation that could limit beneficial uses of artificial intelligence.