Sen. Mike Crapo: You deserve real data privacy rights -- Government should help you get them

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Published on Jul 6, 2019

Over the last decade, we have experienced a digital revolution that sees people using the Internet to manage more parts of their daily lives. Mobile applications, social media platforms and search engines have become everyday tools, but their usage is accompanied by a shocking amount of hidden data collection that is done without individuals’ knowledge or consent.
A report on corporate surveillance from Cracked Labs noted: "The behaviors, movements, social relationships, interests, weaknesses and most private moments of billions are now constantly recorded, evaluated and analyzed in real-time. ... Yet only the tip of the iceberg of today’s pervasive digital tracking is visible; much of it occurs in the background and remains opaque to most of us."
We need to find the balance between maintaining America’s lead on the digital front while also protecting our individual liberties and personal privacy.
Companies are collecting, processing, analyzing and sharing considerable data on individuals for all kinds of purposes. In particular, data brokers play a central role in gathering vast amounts of personal information — many times without ever interacting with individuals — from a wide range of public and private sources, which is then sold or shared with others.
The previously mentioned report broadly outlines examples of some of the information that data brokers collect on individuals: "The profiles ... include not only information about education, occupation, children, religion, ethnicity, political views, activities, interests and media usage, but also about someone’s online behaviors such as web searches. Additionally, they collect data on purchases, credit card usage, income and loans, banking and insurance policies, property and vehicle ownership, and a variety of other data types. Data brokers also calculate scores that predict an individual’s possible future behavior, with regard to, for example, someone’s economic stability or plans to have a baby or to change jobs."
Companies will argue that this data is needed in order to provide customized, free services, but consumers will just as rightly argue that they were never fully informed of such data collection, nor consented to it.
The Internet economy brings with it the promise of increasing consumer choice, inclusion and economic prosperity, but also presents a new set of challenges and requires our vigilance. The United States has fostered the growth of a data-driven world, but we have not kept pace with a complementary consumer privacy framework to ensure proper protection.
Through our leadership of the Senate Banking Committee, Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and I have begun examining approaches to data privacy and how individuals can be given real control over their personal data.
Individuals are the rightful owners of their data. They should be granted a certain set of priva

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