Tech Industry Lobby Proposes Data Privacy Laws; Critics Call Them Weak
The tech industry, which reaps billions of dollars by harvesting personal data and using it to sell targeted advertising and other services, opened the door to federal data privacy regulations today in a proposal by ITI, a lobbying organization for tech companies.
The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents the policy interests of companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon, released a conceptual framework for Congressional legislation that it says “advances the privacy rights of consumers and defines the responsibilities of companies in using personal data while continuing to enable the innovations that transform our lives.”
Critics, however, see the ITI guidelines as a way to shield technology companies from even stricter constraints that might be imposed in the aftermath of a series of company data breaches that exposed sensitive consumer data to criminals, hackers, and political operatives—most notably, Facebook’s loss of control over millions of personal profiles to outside companies including Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that claimed it could influence voter decisions in U.S. elections.
“The ITI might as well have called [its proposal] ‘a data collector’s Bill of Rights,’” says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a non-profit advocacy group that focuses on tech-related consumer issues such as data privacy and net neutrality.
Congress has been summoning tech firms to hearings on the privacy issue, and continues to mull possible legislation.