Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) signed data privacy legislation into law, making Virginia the second state in the nation to adopt its own data protection rules. The law, known as the Consumer Data Protection Act, had broad support from the tech industry, including Amazon, which is building an Arlington (VA) headquarters. The legislation will allow residents of the commonwealth to opt out of having their data collected and sold, similar to a California law that went into effect in 2020.
On paper, Feb 25’s House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing was about analyzing how big tech platforms act as gatekeepers and create barriers to entry — but really it was about testing out three new avenues for keeping tech companies in line and seeing which ones might gain support from tech-skeptical Republican representatives. But at the hearing, the subcommittee moved beyond calling out bad behavior and laid out three big areas where Congress could actually take action:
The Federal Communications Commission is establishing a new system of records, FCC/WCB–3, Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, subject to the Privacy Act of 1974. This system of records is maintained for use in determining whether a member of a household meets the eligibility criteria to qualify for a discount on the cost of internet service and a subsidy for low-cost devices such as computers and tablets; ensuring benefits are not duplicated; dispute resolution regarding eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program; customer surveys; audit; verification of a provider’s represent
Sustainability when looking at a digital infrastructure plan needs to take cybersecurity and data privacy into account. In the modern world, data is a currency. From the dark web to marketing analytics, data has a financial value. The government needs to address these issues as part of establishing a nationwide internet infrastructure. Relying solely on internet service providers to build the infrastructure and secure it will fail. Regulations do not secure information or cloud services; they serve as deterrents. The federal government needs to take action to fill in security holes.
A growing mosaic of state-level internet privacy proposals in lieu of a nationwide framework could provide new protections for consumers and additional question marks for businesses. Lawmakers in Virginia are nearing passage of data protection legislation in a rapid-fire legislative session slated to conclude in Feb. Washington state officials are considering compromises over enforcement of a potential privacy law for the third time. States including NY, MN, OK, and FL are pushing ahead with similar proposals of their own.
President Joe Biden's presence in the Oval Office over the next four years will have a major influence on the tech sector, including infrastructure policy on broadband deployment and national security issues involving Chinese tech companies. The president and his team will also play a role in how to handle the growth and influence of social media giants.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his business partner, John Bruce, have launched Inrupt, a company that allows consumers, rather than companies, to control their own data, to store it in pods, and to move it wherever they please. That means Facebook, Google or any other Big Tech company will no longer be able to extract an individual's photos, comments or purchase history without asking.
Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech explaining his company’s upcoming privacy changes, which will ban apps from sharing iPhone user behavior with third parties unless users give explicit consent. And he made plain that these new policies were designed at least in part with Facebook in mind.
In an interview with Politico, Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) describe his plans for the 117th Congress. Some highlights:
Among the Department of Commerce's accomplishments in 2020: