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To Comply with State Privacy Laws, Companies Ironically Need More Data

Adrienne Patton

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Photo of Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., speaking at a CompTIA privacy event by Adrienne Patton

WASHINGTON, February 12, 2020 – As states draft and pass state-wide privacy laws, company compliance becomes increasingly “untenable,” said Konture Technology Services President Scott Crespo at a privacy event held Wednesday by CompTIA.

Crespo helps companies of varying sizes meet privacy laws, a job that became more complicated when the California Consumer Privacy Act passed in 2018 and became enforceable on January 1, 2020.

Crespo said his clients have been able to maneuver CCPA by adopting a “one size fits all” approach that will soon be impossible if more state standards are passed, said Crespo.

Companies who cannot comply in time might stop providing services to certain states, which occurred when the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation because other countries couldn’t comply in time, said Crespo.

Companies support privacy, but lawmakers must avoid hindering innovation and new players in the industry by setting an impossible compliance bar, said Crespo.

Crespo noted the irony in laws like CCPA. Because businesses want to comply with CCPA, this requires they collect more information about consumers to confirm their place of residence, said Crespo.

California residents remain protected under CCPA even while travelling, making privacy practice even more difficult for companies because they must know where users permanently live, said Crespo.

State legislation moves a lot quicker than federal legislation, said CompTIA State Government Affairs Vice President Alexi Madon. “A lot of people want to pass bills now,” said Madon.

Any company that acquires data is affected by private right of actions, not just the technology sector, explained Madon.

Madon said bills generally have three parts: definitions, access provisions, enforcement. State privacy bills look very different, a dilemma that Crespo noted will lead to companies putting up “digital borders.”

Representatives Cardenas and McMorris Rodgers acknowledged the urgent need for a national privacy law

Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-California, expressed concern over his home state’s CCPA because it was not a finished product when it reached the governor’s desk.

Cardenas said he favors an “opt in model,” so consumers can choose the privacy they deem fit. Cardenas hopes to pass a bipartisan privacy law that still grants states some leeway.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, said the committee hopes to pass a federal privacy law this year.

GDPR created huge barriers for industry newcomers, and Congress must pass a bill that “protects consumers without stifling innovation,” said McMorris Rodgers.

McMorris Rodgers urged the audience to increase awareness surrounding the privacy issue because as excitement dwindles, McMorris Rodgers feels less optimistic a bill can get passed soon.

When asked what she thinks about the privacy bill the Washington State legislature is debating, McMorris Rodgers said, it makes her “more convinced” that a national model is essential.

CompTIA Senior Policy Counsel Dileep Srihari said it was “refreshing” that the congress members were concerned about their respective state’s privacy initiatives.

Srihari was concerned about the “hidden cost to innovation” that privacy regulations can pose if not carefully constructed. Numerous companies will emerge with 5G, just like Uber emerged with 4G, said Srihari. He worries that new innovations will be “stillborn” under overpowering privacy laws.

Adrienne Patton was a Reporter for Broadband Breakfast. She studied English rhetoric and writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She grew up in a household of journalists in South Florida. Her father, the late Robes Patton, was a sports writer for the Sun-Sentinel who covered the Miami Heat, and is for whom the press lounge in the American Airlines Arena is named.

Privacy

National Plan Required For Consumer Privacy, Congresswoman says

Samuel Triginelli

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Screenshot of Suzan DelBene from C-Span

April 1, 2021 — A Congresswoman from Washington State, who introduced federal legislation that would be the first national consumer privacy law if adopted, says the federal government is being outpaced by some states that are implementing their own consumer privacy legislation.

“There is a significant problem with consumer privacy in the US,” said Representative Suzan Delbene on Tuesday during a New Democratic Network event. Delbene introduced her Information Transparency, and Personal Data Control Act, a wide ranging federal privacy legislation, on March 10. Delbene is the vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and is the chair of the House New Democrat Coalition caucus.

There is no federal data privacy law, which has forced some states to pursue their own consumer data policies. That includes California and, recently, Virginia. Some have said the concern is that there will be a patchwork of different privacy legislation that may end up just confusing Americans.

“We need a uniform set of rights for consumers and businesses standards to follow in the digital world,” DelBene said.

The bill states that companies must provide privacy polies in plain language, must allow users to opt-in for personal information gathering, must disclose who personal information is being shared with, and must submit to privacy audits every two years. The federal law would also give the government the ability to preempt existing state laws.

Simon Rosenberg, president of New Democrat Network, said about the bill that, “together, we have a lot of work to do in the coming years to restore the promise of the Internet. One of the areas of greatest need is creating a single working privacy standard for the United States.

“In her bill, the approach Representative DelBene takes to protecting Americans’ privacy is smart, measured, and will undoubtedly be highly influential in shaping the approach Congress takes in the days ahead. It is a very welcome addition to the vital debate underway about our digital future,” Rosenberg added.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that privacy policies are transparent and clear. “Many consumers are given lots of information with lots of legal terms, that leads them to click the accept button without knowing what they have signed up for,” DelBene said.

“There is an urgent need for consumers to understand what data is being shared,” she added. “We want to make sure there is enforcement. The law says that this will be the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission, so the FTC must have the resources to do this.

“I think my bill is focused on privacy specifically because I think it is foundational. We build on important things, such as AI, facial recognition, and all the other issues we need to address. If we don’t start addressing the issues of data privacy, it will be hard to imagine how it will the expansion of laws to address a broader set of issues that need to get ahead of.”

Congresswoman DelBene believes the bill can be bipartisan, but she wants to make sure Congress understands its importance. “I’m not sure Congress understands these issues, so it takes a collective effort to push it forward.”

DelBene says she’s confident that Congress will follow the bill, despite many congresspeople who she said are hesitant to take that first step.

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Privacy

Attach Strings To Data Collection To Combat Surveillance Capitalism, Experts Suggest

Samuel Triginelli

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Photo of Marietje Schaake from the European Parliament

March 29, 2021 – Laws addressing how much data can be collected should be among new regulations that must ensure data collection from big technology companies doesn’t harm Americans, according to a March 17 panel of academics at the South by Southwest conference.

The era of corporate self-regulation is now up, said Marietje Schaake of the Standford University Cyber Policy Center and panelist at SXSW conference discussing the “techno-democratic” approach to Big Tech, including what to do about surveillance capitalism.

Surveillance capitalism is an economic system centered on commodifying personal data with the core purpose of profit-making.

“We have heard many pledges, many promises, and good intention offers for solutions for self-regulatory initiatives. And the time is out for those,” she said.

Schaake said it is time the government attach consequences to data collection to the detriment of the public and to set clear limits on collection practices.

“We have tried for too long, and it has led to several distractions and lost time to make sure that the rule of law is leading and that there are enforceable accountable, transparent expectations placed on these companies,” she said.

Joan Donovan, a social scientist at the Harvard Kennedy School, said what’s critical is how much data tech companies should be allowed to collect and under what conditions should they sell it to ensure rights aren’t violated.

“The tech sector as it is built now, relies on harvesting so much data about an individual that their products and the entire economy they are built on could not exist” if there were robust rights and privacy protections in place, Donovan said.

She said the discussion about regulating these businesses should include moving from a focus on protecting enterprise to protecting human rights.

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Privacy

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Calls for Update to Children’s Privacy Legislation

Derek Shumway

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March 11, 2021 – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., on Thursday called for an update to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act at subcommittee hearing on “Kids Online During COVID: Child Safety in an Increasingly Digital Age.”

“The challenges children face online existed before the pandemic, but it’s only gotten worse,” he said.

Visiting in person with extended family and friends have so far become a thing of the past as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Many other in-person activities have been replaced with video games, social media, and other video services.

Kids’ screen time has doubled during the pandemic, said Pallone. The effects of too much screen time can increase instances of anxiety, sleep deprivation, obesity, and cyber bullying, he said.

The increased screen time due to the pandemic has turned consumers into victims of what he called harassment and dark pattern manipulation led by advertisers. Children cannot defend themselves like adults in managing these predatory practices, he said.

“Despite laws to protect children’s privacy, data collection and tracking of children is disturbingly prevalent.” He went on to criticize many apps targeting children on mobile devices are notorious for collecting personal information, which is then bought and sold, resulting in advertising meant to manipulate children.

He said that digital ad spending specifically targeting children was expected to reach $1.7 billion this year. COPPA, which hasn’t been updated since 2013, needs to be updated because, he said, internet companies have since continued to target children.

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