Born (to collect consumers’ online data) in the USA

April 15, 2021
Rebecca LaChance
American flag superimposed on a wall of CCTV cameras

The lack of standards for consumer online data privacy is evident around the globe. But as the Editorial Board of the New York Times made clear in their article, “America, Your Privacy Settings Are All Wrong”, they are embarrassingly low in the US. 

"Imagine, for example, if getting your suit pressed at the dry cleaner's automatically and permanently signed you up to have scores of inferences about you — measurements, gender, race, language, fabric preferences, credit card type — shared with retailers, cleaning product advertisers and hundreds of other dry cleaners, who themselves had arrangements to share that data with others. It might give you pause.

But that’s the daily reality on the internet. Every minute a person spends online helps countless companies build a thicker dossier about that person."

And unfortunately, the systems that are being promoted to help Americans harness their data online are opt-out systems, which really go the wrong way and offer advertisers the upper hand.

"It should not be the role of consumers to make marketers’ jobs easier.”

We agree. Legislation for data privacy should focus on opt-in provisions rather than endless cookie pop-ups that require us to scroll through and untick pages of permissions to protect ourselves online.

“Bombard someone long enough with consent requests and users will click “yes” to anything to make it stop.”

Until online marketers and the tech companies who thrive off of them can be trusted to protect users’ data by default (is that a winged pig we see hovering on the horizon?), federal laws in the US and beyond need to put consumers first when it comes to data privacy.

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