Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposes new government agency for internet privacy

David Matthews

TS Maniac
Staff member

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation called the Data Protection Act. This act establishes the creation of a new government agency called the Data Protection Agency (DPA). This new agency would be responsible for protecting consumer data and investigating possible misuse of that data.

"Your data is extremely valuable to many companies with unknown motives, who are looking to exploit your data for profit," the senator remarked in a Medium blog post. "As a result, your very existence is being parsed, split, and sold to the highest bidder, and there is very little you — or anyone, including the federal government — can do about it."

According to Sen. Gillibrand, the DPA's primary functions will include enforcing data protection rules through the use of civil penalties as well as to conduct investigations on data privacy issues and share its findings. The DPA would work to ensure fair competition across the internet by promoting tools and resources that strengthen data protection and privacy. Finally, the DPA would advise Congress on issues concerning privacy, such as deep fakes and encryption, as well as represent the United States at international forums.

"Our personal data is under assault. Congress must establish a data protection agency. Senator Gillibrand has put forward a bold, ambitious proposal to safeguard the privacy of Americans."

For now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary agency charged with protecting consumer privacy. However, it seems that the agency hasn't been effective in its duties. Facebook was slammed with a $5 billion fine following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other privacy issues but ended up adding $10 billion to its market valuation. Google was fined $170 million for violating COPPA, but much of the responsibility of policing content aimed at children now falls on the creators.

One of the primary hurdles the Data Protection Act will face is the reluctance of the Republican Party to create another government agency. Many hard-line conservatives will bristle at the thought of creating another government bureaucracy.

Still, the actions of almost every American tech giant have come under increased scrutiny as of late. Just days ago, the FTC opened an antitrust investigation against several big names, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook over their acquisitions in recent years. The proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint was in limbo for months because of the lawsuit by several states attempting to block the deal. However, US District Court Judge Victor Marrero recently approved the merger in a controversial ruling.

The Data Protection Act has garnered support from various consumer privacy groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Caitriona Fitzgerald, EPIC's Policy Director, praised Gillibrand's efforts saying, "The US confronts a privacy crisis. Our personal data is under assault. Congress must establish a data protection agency. Senator Gillibrand has put forward a bold, ambitious proposal to safeguard the privacy of Americans".

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ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
The less government the better. I would say it gets minimal funding and further growth is fueled by the fines/suits imposed on companies. Kind of like how the MPAA/RIAA is making tons of profit. This branch would feed off of companies and fines need to be relative to the company size according to the income it is making. Facebook has grown to deserve a 50% company value fine if not 100%.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Oh, good grief..another agency? Why wouldn't data protection just be handled by the FCC or ITC? I agree we need some government oversight but not if it means yet another layer of bureaucracy.
From a hierarchical standpoint, making this into a separate agency decreases the amount of bureaucracy. Instead of being placed under the FCC and being required to answer to the FCC, making it a separate agency means that it gains significantly more leeway in it's operations.

I almost feel like this should be part of the FCC but the FCC has gotten to the point where it's rather bloated. Fill any one bucket up too much and you reduce it's effectiveness.

Typically new agencies are started out for what appears to be something small but often times that something has room to grow. I think as time goes by, such a proposed agency like the one in the article will certainly increase in importance.
 

gamerk2

TS Evangelist
From a hierarchical standpoint, making this into a separate agency decreases the amount of bureaucracy. Instead of being placed under the FCC and being required to answer to the FCC, making it a separate agency means that it gains significantly more leeway in it's operations.

I almost feel like this should be part of the FCC but the FCC has gotten to the point where it's rather bloated. Fill any one bucket up too much and you reduce it's effectiveness.

Typically new agencies are started out for what appears to be something small but often times that something has room to grow. I think as time goes by, such a proposed agency like the one in the article will certainly increase in importance.
Yeah, you get into a typical "tall vs wide" organizational argument.
 
Oh yes, this is good. really...probably good.

but who is going to handle the mishandling of the goverment?

fix one thing first, then go deeper.

its easy too!

1. register to vote
2. vote

you should at least know who NOT to vote for. if you are replying to this with an angry, ignorant, hateful, biased, sexist, poorly written, smart*** remark you are probably voting for the wrong person and should exile yourself to another planet for the good of all of us :)

** I do not watch topics or reply to posts **
 

mgwerner

TS Booster
Caveat emptor.

Less government, not more. If you don't want your data to be misused, stop putting what you had for breakfast, and everything else about your life, out there for all to see (and use). There are already plenty of laws about personal data - FERPA, HEPPA, etc. Start pulling business licenses of those who break the law, and the law breaking will stop. Another goverment agency with overpaid and underwrote employed (Think DMV without people waiting in line) is definitely not what is needed.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
As I see it, it is obvious something needs to be done, and the existing laws are not sufficient. Not to mention, that companies routinely show the world that they are incapable of regulating themselves especially when they only give a crap about how much money they are taking from people's pockets and are putting in their pockets.

If people want to post about when they take a crap, let them. However, because of the widespread adoption of the internet, it is getting more difficult to do things like make financial transactions with a bank without using the internet; it is also more difficult for people who want to to keep personally identifiable information private to keep that information private. Many companies automatically save your address and credit card data for future purchases when there is absolutely no need for them to have such information.These are the things that need protection. And as those same companies that routinely show us they are incapable of keeping sensitive information private have shown us, it has become a commonplace and almost daily occurrence that, for any regulatory agency, is a daunting task.

As I see it, laws need strengthening and a separate agency is needed especially as the FCC recently dumped a boat-load of crap on the FTC. It will not get better without better laws and a bulldog that will go after violators and bite them where it hurts when they violate the laws.
 

Impudicus

TS Maniac
Think of the way google collects and uses your data, now imagine that implemented in a real life, non internet scenario. Being assigned a unique "anonymous" ID, your shopping habits, your TV viewing, your contacts from your phone book and collected. The bars and restaurants you visit, every store you walk into, you pick up an item on the shelf, and just look at it, and poof! someone's there to make other suggestions, you receive mail with related items. To collect such data in the real world would require someone following you around, watching you, makes note of everything you do, sharing that information with parties interested in selling you things. And of course they would be paid well in exchange for such data. In the end, it is spying.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Think of the way google collects and uses your data, now imagine that implemented in a real life, non internet scenario. Being assigned a unique "anonymous" ID, your shopping habits, your TV viewing, your contacts from your phone book and collected. The bars and restaurants you visit, every store you walk into, you pick up an item on the shelf, and just look at it, and poof! someone's there to make other suggestions, you receive mail with related items. To collect such data in the real world would require someone following you around, watching you, makes note of everything you do, sharing that information with parties interested in selling you things. And of course they would be paid well in exchange for such data. In the end, it is spying.
And, to state the obvious, is exactly what gagme, fakebook, and other online presences do to everyone on the internet.
 
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Ravalo

TS Addict
Oh yes, this is good. really...probably good.

but who is going to handle the mishandling of the goverment?

fix one thing first, then go deeper.

its easy too!

1. register to vote
2. vote

you should at least know who NOT to vote for. if you are replying to this with an angry, ignorant, hateful, biased, sexist, poorly written, smart*** remark you are probably voting for the wrong person and should exile yourself to another planet for the good of all of us :)

** I do not watch topics or reply to posts **
Too late, AMLO won
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Noooooo ..... this is clearly a matter for the Consumer Protection Agency, which has had all of it's teeth pulled. It needs to be reinstated WITHOUT political involvement and without any components being filled by political appointment. It needs to be a self standing agency, much like the Federal Reserve with set appointments and any reporting as information only. Such an agency must be empowered to pursue any and all matters concerning consumer complaints and to work with state and Federal prosecutors to pursue, capture and convict any and all criminals within it's purview.

Changes of that happening in the current political climate? ........ less than zero ......

 

PEnnn

TS Guru
Oh, good grief..another agency? Why wouldn't data protection just be handled by the FCC or ITC? I agree we need some government oversight but not if it means yet another layer of bureaucracy.
Because the FCC is the harlot of the industry, and the other is being groomed to be one as well.

PS: Did you complain when GWB created DHS and 89 agencies in one stroke?? Yeah, I thought so....so spare us your hollow indignation, just because Gillibrand is not from your favorite party....
 

PEnnn

TS Guru
Caveat emptor.

Less government, not more. If you don't want your data to be misused, stop putting what you had for breakfast, and everything else about your life, out there for all to see (and use). There are already plenty of laws about personal data - FERPA, HEPPA, etc. Start pulling business licenses of those who break the law, and the law breaking will stop. Another goverment agency with overpaid and underwrote employed (Think DMV without people waiting in line) is definitely not what is needed.
Well, that's easier said than done. Even if you publish or post zilch, trackers from every tech company will follow you and WILL know who you are, your shopping habits, where you live and even compile profiles and sell them! Heck, Facebook will track you whether you have an account int that septic tank pr not!!

So, how are those FERPA, HEPPA, and whoever doing?? Poorly I'd say, since they have zero authority to prevent or punish tech company trackers and scammers.

As long as we don't have an agency that is explicitly authorized to punish this a$$holery, nothing will change.