‘Mind Your Own Business’ Bill Demands Privacy from Tech Companies

It seems like Congress has a track record of either halting, or even repealing, federal protections for U.S. citizens’ privacy online. But a new bill just introduced by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden goes against the general current of legislators’ decisions in a big way, calling for a far more formidable Federal Trade Commission (FTC), significantly increased transparency from tech companies, and more avenues of opportunity for people who want to protect their privacy. It’s called the Mind Your Own Business Act, and it wants companies like Facebook and CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg to do just that.

The one sheet for the complete bill, located here, clearly outlines its desired adjustments to federal privacy laws, calling for the FTC to be awarded “the authority and resources to address and prevent threats to consumers’ privacy,” as well as the establishment of “minimum privacy and cybersecurity standards.”

Futurism picked up on a statement from Wyden’s office accompanying the release of the bill, which claims that “Wyden’s bill contains the most comprehensive protections for Americans’ private data ever introduced, and goes further than Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).” The statement from Wyden’s office adds that the bill would “give consumers radical transparency into how corporations use and share their data, and impose harsh fines and even prison terms for executives at corporations that misuse Americans’ data and lie about those practices to the government.”

Wyden specifically takes aim at Mark Zuckerberg in his office’s statement, saying that “[He] won’t take Americans’ privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences. A slap on the wrist from the FTC won’t do the job, so under my bill he’d face jail time for lying to the government.”

The bill seems more than reasonable considering the current state of federal oversight over the technology sector. For example, according to the one sheet for the bill, there are currently only “about 50 people” who police the entire technology sector and credit agencies. The FTC is also apparently unable to levy fines on first-time violators of privacy regulations, and when companies are finally fined, they’re too minuscule to be effective.

The bill would also create a national Do Not Track system, which would help stop companies from tracking consumers on the web and sharing or selling their data. And companies founded on the sale and exchange of users’ data would have to “offer another, similar privacy-friendly version of their product, for which they can charge a reasonable fee.” The fee would be waived for low-income consumers.

The bill arrived on the same day as Zuckerberg’s presentation on Free Speech at Georgetown University, during which he stated that Facebook was founded on the “belief that giving more people a voice gives power to the powerless and pushes society to get better over time.” Giving “power to the powerless” sounds like a good summary of this bill.

What do you think about Wyden’s bill? Do you think it moves federal regulation of internet privacy in the right direction? Let us know in the comments!

Feature image: Anthony Quintano

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