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Senate bill would require clearly worded terms for online data privacy

The bipartisan bill is a response to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica debacle.
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SOPA Images via Getty Images

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) have introduced a new bill aimed at protecting consumers' online data privacy. They announced plans for such a bill earlier this month after Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress. "Every day companies profit off of the data they're collecting from Americans, yet leave consumers completely in the dark about how their personal information, online behavior, and private messages are being used," Senator Klobuchar said in a statement. "Consumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked and alerting them within 72 hours when a privacy violation occurs and their personal information may be compromised. The digital space can't keep operating like the Wild West at the expense of our privacy."

The Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act of 2018 would require terms of service agreements to be written in plain language and would ensure consumers have the ability to see what data of theirs has been collected and shared. It would also grant users the right to opt out of data tracking and collection and give them more access and control over their online information. When a privacy violation occurs, companies would have to notify the affected users within 72 hours and online platforms would be required to have a privacy program.

Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced legislation as well. The CONSENT Act would also require opt-in consent, data security parameters and more transparency regarding data collection and sharing. Other Congressional leaders have called for tech companies to get involved in the design of more stringent data privacy regulations.

"I don't want to hurt Facebook, and I don't want to regulate them half to death, either. But I have a job to do, and that's protecting the rights and privacy of our citizens," Senator Kennedy said. "Our bill gives consumers more control over their private data, requires user agreements to be written in plain English and requires companies to notify users of privacy violations. These are just simple steps that online platforms should have implemented in the first place."

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