Calif. lawmakers push for data privacy protection

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in California and Washington are working to limit when and how companies collect your personal data.

“Many people, they just sign their user agreement but they don’t often realize what’s happening with their data,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, said.

Congressman Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, has been pushing more user privacy on companies like Apple and Facebook.

“They understand and they want a strong privacy framework. The right to have consent before collecting data. The right to know what’s happening with your data,” he said.

A new California state law allows users to request to see the data companies collect on you and demand they delete it. And another measure in Congress goes even further.

“It’s about the ability of third parties really to manipulate people,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, said. “You need to limit the kind of information that can be collected.”

Rep. Lofgren’s Online Privacy Act puts limits on what data companies collect, allows users to opt out and creates an entirely new agency to enforce those rules.  “They’ll figure out a way to make money given whatever the rules are,” she said. “We need to make sure the security of individuals are protected.”

Carl Szabo, the vice president of NetChoice, said stricter rules on data collection could hurt online business and consumers.  “We’re seeing a fracturing of the internet,” Szabo said. “There are going to be unintended consequences. People are going to see an increase in prices, or fewer offerings of stuff they really enjoy having.”

Even so, Szabo said Congress should act to make privacy laws consistent nationwide.

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