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In Light of Silicon Valley's Privacy Law Proposal, Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal says Big Tech Can't be Trusted

1 Cover  Digital Privacy graphic

 

After Congress and Senate committee's grilled Silicon Valley's bad boys Facebook, Twitter and Google, the tech sector knows that privacy laws are going to be put into place to protect consumers from the deceit of tech companies that have sold consumer data to advertisers unbeknownst to the public.

 

When looking back at Facebook's CEO giving away billions to non-profit organizations to be seen as a good guy, the modern Robin Hood of his time, the company was actually involved in selling their customer's private data. That should have been enough to put the little weasel in jail. Instead, Facebook and its CEO endured a grilling from the government. The average bank robber with a weapon will get 10 years. A Silicon Valley geek gets scolded. What's wrong with that picture?

 

The Verge reports today that "For the past year, discussions involving data privacy have heated up in Congress, and new federal legislation now seems inevitable. Today, a leading technology policy think tank, supported by Google, Amazon, and Facebook, proposed a "grand bargain" with lawmakers, arguing that any new federal data privacy bill should preempt state privacy laws and repeal the sector-specific federal ones entirely.

 

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF a technology policy think tank) proposal lays out a few basic characteristics for legislation that the industry has frequently discussed in the past, like requiring more transparency, data interoperability, and users to opt into the collection of sensitive personal data.

 

All 50 states have their own laws when it comes to notifying users after a data breach, and ITIF asks for a single breach standard in order to simplify compliance. It also calls to expand the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to fine companies that violate the data privacy law, something industry leaders have asked for in the past.

 

But the "bargain" would also preempt state laws like California’s new privacy act, and repeal every other existing piece of federal privacy legislation, including landmark laws like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Every sector- or issue-specific privacy law would be removed, and state and local lawmakers would be unable to draft stricter, more specific regulations in the future."

 

This is pure self serving evil and Apple's CEO blasting social media for this kind of activity was extraordinary. Cook noted in part:

 

"As far back as 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis published an article in the Harvard Law Review, making the case for a “Right to Privacy” in the United States.

 

"He warned: “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade.”

 

"Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.

 

"Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, Our relationships and conversations…Our wishes and fears…Our hopes and dreams.

 

"These scraps of data…each one harmless enough on its own…are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold."

 

That's why the new proposal from ITIF represents what Google, Facebook and Twitter want, and not Apple. Apple is not associated with selling user data.

 

The Verge's report further noted that tech groups like ITIF argue that a 'patchwork' of privacy legislation would stifle innovation and increase service prices for consumers. ITIF senior policy analyst Alan McQuinn, co-author of the report wrote that "Privacy regulations aren’t free—they create costs for consumers and businesses, and if done badly, they could undermine the thriving U.S. digital economy."

 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) says the think tank’s latest proposal is self-serving. "If Big Tech thinks this is a reasonable framework for privacy legislation, they should be embarrassed. This proposal would protect no one – it is only a grand bargain for the companies who regularly exploit consumer data for private gain and seek to evade transparency and accountability. "

 

Blumenthal further added that "Big tech cannot be trusted to write its own rules – a reality this proposal only underscores. I look forward to rolling out bipartisan privacy legislation that does in fact ‘maximize consumer privacy,’ and puts consumers first." For more on this, read the full report from The Verge here.

 

Apple's war on Silicon Valley's Google, Facebook and Twitter continued last week with a gigantic multi-story banner promoting Apple's position on Privacy.

 

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