Even though some consumers are enjoying data privacy – such as the European Union, which is following the world’s largest privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – not every country is protected, CBS News reported. More specifically, Americans were hit the hardest, especially the past couple of years, when it came to big companies’ collection of their personal data, among fake news, hacked political campaigns, and more.
Max Schrems, a lawyer who has been a champion of GDPR, helped bring international attention to the issues surrounding data privacy, and said that “data is the most important commodity,” according to CBSNews.
“The [GDPR] legislation here says it’s you that your data belongs to,” Schrems told CBS News. “You should have control over that. However, in an environment where there is no such law, basically, whoever factually has the power over it, which is usually the big tech company, owns it, in that sense.”
One argument tech companies have raised during the battle over consumers’ data is that consumers have actually “given them permission to take their personal data in exchange for using the product,” such as an app, or even Google’s Android operating systems. This so-called consent is “buried in the fine print on those long impenetrable online privacy agreements” that consumers have to agree to in order to use the product.
“You paid $1,000 right now and you’re not allowed to use your $1,000 phone unless you agree that all the data goes to someone else,” Schrems told CBS News. “And that is basically forced consent.”
CBS News suggested that Americans might also benefit from similar legislature; under GDPR, all companies conducting business in Europe (including American companies with European locations) are no longer able to collect consumers’ data without asking permission. The goal of the law to give the control over data back to consumers, especially personal information. Companies that don’t follow the law are hit with a fine and other penalties.
CBS News reported that giant tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are starting to say that they could get behind a privacy law “if they were given considerable input.”
However, Jeff Chester, a privacy advocate, told CBS News that he doesn’t think American consumers will get their data privacy back unless a law is put in place.
“This is simply a bait and switch in terms of protecting privacy in America today,” he said. “The companies have no intention of supporting a privacy law that actually would stop them from collecting our information and give Americans the same rights the Europeans now have.”