In a lecture at Princeton University last week entitled “Big Data and Consumer Privacy: Addressing Challenges and Finding Solutions,” the Federal Trade Commission’s Julie Brill joined others in calling for Congress to enact new legislation covering data brokers, in particular to improve commercial privacy laws regarding how and what personal information is collected.
Commissioner Brill indicated her belief that data brokers should be required to reveal more information to consumers about their personal information that is being collected by businesses, calling for “baseline privacy legislation” to ensure privacy protections for consumers.
Brill mentioned the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, which was introduced in the United States Senate on February 12 by Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in an effort to lift the “veil of secrecy” behind data collection by ensuring accuracy and accountability for consumers. However, Brill noted that the current version of the Data Act only covers some of the reforms she believes are necessary.
Brill recommended legislation should require data brokers to provide consumers with notice, access and correction rights based on the sensitivity and use of data that’s being collected, including the ability to opt-out of having information stored online. She also called for more aggressive policies to regulate the security and sale of this data, including stripping the information of its identifying characteristics so it cannot be tied to a specific person.