The National Association of Realtors®’ 2019 Vice Chair of Federal Technology Policy testified before the Senate on Tuesday as Congress continues its push to craft data privacy legislation. Nina Dosanjh offered NAR’s perspective on how federal efforts to protect consumer information can be beneficial for America’s small businesses, including real estate brokerages, and their customers.
“As Realtors®, we have no higher priority than the relationships with our clients and the protection of their private information,” Dosanjh said during her testimony to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Central to this relationship is an assurance of the protection of our clients’ sensitive personal information. NAR’s members are emphasizing this point as it becomes more relevant in today’s world, while the Realtor® Code of Ethics explicitly acknowledges the obligation to preserve the confidentiality of our clients’ data.”
Dosanjh is a Realtor® and the Director of Strategic Alliances and Technology with Vanguard Properties in San Francisco, California. Her role analyzing the firm’s technological and operational systems affords a unique perspective into the potential impact of federal privacy legislation on small Realtor® entities across the country.
“As technology drives evolution in the real estate industry, our approach to data privacy must evolve as well,” Dosanjh told the committee. “Congress has a tremendous opportunity to strengthen protections for consumers, but any legislation that emerges from these efforts must also reflect small business realities. These are considered in NAR’s six key principles for a nationwide, consumer-centered data privacy law.”
Specifically, Realtors® believe effective data privacy legislation must establish uniform standards for businesses and equal protection for consumers; include direct statutory obligations for all service providers handling consumer data; focus on transparency and customer choice; emphasize accountability for each business’s respective actions; establish uniform nationwide standards and enforcement for data privacy; and, finally, include reasonable FTC enforcement authority.
While the timing for palatable federal legislation is unclear, NAR has worked to provide members with extensive resources and training opportunities regarding data privacy and security, emphasizing best practices for protecting the sensitive information Realtors® encounter daily.
“America’s Realtors®, like many main street businesses, depend on reliable data to drive and sustain our day-to-day operations,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota. “Going forward, maintaining the trust of our clients by safeguarding personal information will be critical to the success of each of NAR’s 1.3 million members. As Congress continues data privacy discussions, Realtors® are focused on ways to proactively and effectively secure our clients’ data while they pursue the American Dream of homeownership.”
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.