How Long Will It Be Before Americans' Data and Information Privacy Is Protected by Law?

Around the world, it is considered common sense that the law should protect how individuals' information and data are gathered, accessed and used by state and private sector actors and agents.  In the United States, on the other hand, a concern for data protection and privacy is likely rather to be considered a form of pathological paranoia.  You'd think this would change as more and more people become victims of identity theft, but some people never learn.  Fortunately, however, some lawmakers are beginning to get it.  A new bill proposed in California would require companies to reveal what information they have stored on an individual when requested to do so by that individual.  From the EFF:
Let’s face it: most of us have no idea how companies are gathering and sharing our personal data. Colossal data brokers are sucking up personal facts about Americans from sources they refuse to disclose. Digital giants like Facebook are teaming up with data brokers in unsettling new ways. Privacy policies for companies are difficult to read at best and can change in a heartbeat. And even savvy users are unlikely to fend off the snooping eyes of online trackers working to build profiles of our interests and web histories.

So what can we do about it? A new proposal in California, supported by a diverse coalition including EFF and the ACLU of Northern California, is fighting to bring transparency and access to the seedy underbelly of digital data exchanges. The Right to Know Act (AB 1291) would require a company to give users access to the personal data the company has stored on them—as well as a list of all the other companies with whom that original company has shared the users' personal data—when a user requests it. It would cover California residents and would apply to both offline and online companies. If you live in California, click here to support this bill . . .

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