Do you monitor what personal information companies access and store when you visit a website? Do you wish you had more ability to know what companies do with such data? In 2018, user data privacy rights have become a major topic for discussion. Starting with Europe’s enactment of the General Data Privacy Regulation earlier in the year, and California’s passing of the Consumer Privacy Act, we have seen many changes in the online legal world. The trend continues, with internet giants now lobbying for a federal regulatory scheme, which would ease the number of laws they have to comply with if each state follows California and enacts its own user privacy legislation. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the recent changes.
After California passed a law this year, which grants consumers greater data privacy rights, there has been much backlash from technology giants. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and IBM are currently lobbying officials in Washington for a federal privacy law that would overrule California’s legislation. These technology giants are hoping for such legislation to be passed through Congress, as the lobbyists would influence how the law is written, giving them discretion over their ability to use personal data and information. Because federal law on such a matter would supersede state law, California’s user privacy law may become naught.
According to Ernesto Falcon of Electronic Frontier Foundation, a user rights group, the strategy of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft here is “to neuter California[‘s law] for something much weaker on the federal level. The companies are afraid of California because it sets the bar for other states.” As user data and information is such a key part of the business model of the social media companies – who use such information to sell advertisements – they want as much freedom as possible to collect and exploit such data.