Just about every evolution adheres to the catchphrase “two steps forward, one step back”. While the internet has been perhaps the largest two steps mankind has ever taken, it came with an immense regression in respect to personal privacy. These days, multitrillion dollar corporations will not bat an eye at using your personal data for profit, even if that means selling it to people with unknown or outright amoral interests.
The American government has taken close to zero steps to address internet privacy, which we can all rest assured has absolutely nothing to do with lobbying. But finally, that is going to change. The Right to Know Act will not prevent companies from doing what they will with your data, but it does require them to disclose all personal data that they retain about you and provide contact info for every 3rd party that they’ve given that data to over the last 12 months. “This bill would also provide that a violation of these provisions is deemed to constitute an injury to the customer for purposes of seeking remedies available under law.” AB-1291
This additional level of accountability, which is really just about the first one, goes a long way in allowing individuals to determine how their data is being used and in turn whether or not that use is acceptable. It’s likely that we’re going to learn a lot of stuff that we don’t want to hear if it passes, and even if it doesn’t, I can practically guarantee that something like it will have to pass eventually, and soon. The people care, regardless of the lies tech giants are constantly feeding us about our apathy regarding privacy. They are making the case that we do not care because, until now, we have not been fighting them, when in reality this is simply an enormous battle to wage against filthy rich companies and less than 1% of the human population can afford to wage it (if any one person can).
Unfortunately, this bill is specific to California which means it will only effect corporations within its boundaries; fortunately, that happens to be quite a few tech companies. Giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have joined a lobby of over 1,000 firms named TechAmerica to oppose this legislation. This same lobby supports CISPA, an evolution of the almost universally loathed SOPA and PIPA acts that will allow the government to wiretap American citizens nigh boundlessly. Essentially, it’s a lobby less concerned about individual rights than getting the government off their nuts so they can make some fucking money. We can all appreciate that, right?
Not surprisingly, the TechAmerica site does not dare to address Right to Know Act in any obvious way. A search of ab-1291 (the bill number) turns up nothing, and the term “Right to Know” splashes only a headline link that says:
Strangely, or perhaps not so at all, clicking this link does not take you to anything related to this bill, but instead to ArsTechnica’s tech policy section, despite that the link says it will take you to Infoition.com instead. There appears to be exactly zero information about this bill or TechAmerica’s opinion of it on this site, except for this one quote found under “overbroad” headline:
“New corporate lobbying from Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook and Google, has successfully postponed a committee hearing for a new California state bill: the “Right to Know Act of 2013.” Read More “ — http://www.techamerica.org/?s=%22right+to+know%22
They sure seem proud of themselves, and strangely keen on referring to themselves in the third person. Of course, it is also strange that you cannot actually read more and are instead redirected to a site of little relevance to the link.
I will be doing my best to collect additional information about this bill to make it easier for interested activists to contact their representatives and push this bill forward (or back, if you so please; it’s a free country). This kind of legislation promises to usher in a future where corporations are not allowed to do what they want because it makes them some money, an all to common problem in today’s society, especially in America.
Check in later for more info and additional news about the Right to Know Act of 2013.To read the article that informed me of this bill, please visit Time.com