On 13 Feb 2020, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has come up with a novel idea to regulate the data by the United States government. The proposal is being seen as an attempt to overhaul the existing system of protection of data by the US govt.
The New York senator’s Data Protection proposal, if becomes an act, would seek to establish a new independent agency called the Data Protection Agency (DPA). The DPA will have the authority and responsibility to conduct tasks towards protecting consumer data on a mass scale. Data keepers would be empowered to file complaints with the data agency DPA. This initiation on the part of the consumer would be enough to result in bigger investigations into a potential privacy breach through data.
The act has the potential to rock the base of major companies like Google and Facebook. The act would seek to keep a tab on the usage of consumers’ data by these tech behemoths. Just imagine that a company is found to have breached users’ privacy or caused or motivated any malpractice of consumer’s data, the Data Protection Agency should be empowered to inflict legal action on the company. The agency will also be powerful enough to impose civil penalties on the company.
Right now, companies like Google have a vast storehouse of users’ personal data. This info can be in the form of their profile photos, search history, online purchases, location history, virtual connections, conversations, data on health and transactions, and a lot of other details. There is a huge chance that the companies and their partners exploit the users’ data just for profit, putting the users’ privacy at stake.
The senator has written a blog article on Medium, where she expressed her concerns about the topic and how she feels the coming up of a new agency would reduce the severity of the problem.
She wrote, “I believe that this needs to be fixed and that you deserve to be in control of your own data. You have the right to know if companies are using your information for profit. You need a way to protect yourself, and you deserve a place that will look out for you.”Source: Forbes
Companies like Google and Facebook act as vast storehouses of data, and they get to use that data in something as natural as suggesting the aptest restaurant or café near you. But common users might not understand the implications of agreeing to use these platforms in their daily lives. This is where the senator says these companies “repeatedly rejected responsibility and accountability for the greater impacts of any bad behavior”.
“With this Bill, Senator Gillibrand joins a history-making new wave of legislative and regulatory efforts in the US and Europe that promise to assert democratic governance over commerce in the digital age.” The legislation proposed by Gillibrand has received an endorsement from Shoshana Zuboff, who is the former Harvard Business School professor and the critically acclaimed author of ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.’ Getting endorsed for her proposed legislation from Zuboff is being hailed as a strike just in time.
The question is how the agency plans to work its way through the difficult route, which poses not just conflicts but ambiguity too! The answer is that the Data Protection Agency would join hands directly with the tech industry in order to promote the development of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs). This move, she suggests, would be an important endeavor so that the agency could “minimize or even eliminate the collection of personal data.”
If you want to know the proposal’s ambitions, it seeks to encourage tech companies, establishments, and technologies in a bid to push and motivate the industry to gradually cut clear from the problematic and risky pay-for-privacy business models. The Data Protection Agency would also be studying the trends of new and advanced technological threats. In recent times, face reading and face data storage tech like deepfakes have been criticized severely.
Thus, such advancements would be kept a check on, and the govt would be advised on how to regulate these emerging threats.