Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in inappropriate data usage. Some of it has come from the data collectors themselves, such as Twitter's recent revelation that they had used security recovery email addresses and phone numbers for targeted advertising. Others have come from third parties, such as Cambridge Analytica and Hyp3r. No matter the source, the inappropriate or unintended use of personal data is on the rise and is causing the world to have less trust in tech companies.
The European Union tried to address the issue, but they did it in a controversial and unproductive way with GDPR. In the United States, legislators have been mulling about how to address the data usage issues differently. Senator Ron Wyden has proposed the comically named "Mind Your Own Business Act," which is intended to punish companies who engage in inappropriate data usage. In a statement, Wyden said,
Mark Zuckerberg won't take Americans' privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences. A slap on the wrist from the FTC won't do the job, so under my bill he'd face jail time for lying to the government. I spent the past year listening to experts and strengthening the protections in my bill. It is based on three basic ideas: Consumers must be able to control their own private information, companies must provide vastly more transparency about how they use and share our data, and corporate executives need to be held personally responsible when they lie about protecting our personal information.
This bill, as Wyden stated, takes the responsibility off of the FTC and places it in the hands of the courts. That means that breaking the law could result in jail time for the executives involved in data usage decisions. That would be a massive change in policy and could actually affect the behavior of the tech companies and their executives. If Zuckerberg faced jail time for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the system may have never made that data available to the company in the first place.
The bill is a far way from being law. Plus, by the time it could become law, it will be changed significantly from what it is today. Do you think this could make a difference in the tech industry?