California Bill Seeks To Give Consumers Access To All That Personal Data Companies Are Mining

We all know (or should know) by now that there’s a whole lot of information about us floating out there on the Internet. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others are busy collecting that info from data brokers and using it in ways seen and unseen. But it’s hard to put a finger on just what about you these companies have, something a new bill called the Right to Know Act is seeking to change in California.

The proposal is supported by a coalition of groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of Northern California, and wants to give consumers access to the digital information on them being collected by whoever is doing the gathering, according to a post on the EFF site.

The Right to Know Act would give consumers the ability to request a list of all the ways their personal info is being traded and sold in exchanges with online advertisers, data brokers, third-party apps and so on.

Under the guidelines laid out in the act, companies would either give users access to the treasure trove of information stored on them and list all other companies it’s shared that data with or, if a company isn’t able to comply with the act due to limited resources or other circumstances, they could choose not to store unnecessary data or ensure that any data collected would de-identify users before storing or sharing it.

If a company didn’t want to spit out a huge chunk of data disclosures, it could give users notice about what data it would be sharing and with whom before or after it happens.

The act would be an update to current policy in California which allows customers to ask companies for an accounting of any disclosures used for direct marketing purposes. Basically, if it’s got your address or phone number and who it sold that information to.

Californians would only be able to ask for an accounting once every 12 months as well, to protect against repetitive requests that could be too much for a company to handle.

This bill would only cover California residents, but if it’s successful it could spread to other states or at least bring about more awareness on the topic of data collection.

New California “Right to Know” Act Would Let Consumers Find Out Who Has Their Personal Data — And Get a Copy of It [Electronic Frontier Foundation]