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Senators Introduce A Bill That Blocks Data Sharing

Senators John McCain and John Kerry are seriously considering to introduce a bill a week from Wednesday that will limit what companies can do with online user activity and profile data. The bill will require that the sharing of user data between companies be an “opt-in” feature that users can choose if they want to share personal information about them. While this bill sounds good on paper, it will definitely limit the amount of “pool data” available which may have unforeseeable consequences on many features we rely on. I do however, like the option of opting in and hope that if the bill does get passed, people will not be too paranoid about sharing certain kinds of information.

One big problem I have with this bill is that it will prevent companies from optimally using their marketing tools. Much of the data that is currently shared is used by companies to determine what consumers are trending towards, and it helps the economy because companies have a better understanding of what they should provide to meet the current demand. Without that information, even if only 30% of Internet users opted out, could work against all companies; big and small.

Thankfully, the US Department of Commerce sees it much the same when they announced “Strong commercial data privacy protections are critical to ensuring that the Internet fulfills its social and economic potential. Our increasing use of the Internet generates voluminous and detailed flows of personal information from an expanding array of devices. Some uses of personal information are essential to delivering services and applications over the Internet. Others support the digital economy, as is the case with personalized advertising.”

They continue however to say that it is still important to analyze the framework of data sharing so we do not violate users who seek complete online privacy. If this bill does get passed, I hope it will require users to opt-out rather than opt-in. I can only hope that the process will involve a bit of a procedure so that only those who really care to have their information private can do so without making the procedure too easy that people opt-out without thinking.

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Photo Courtesy of Center for American Progress Action Fund
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