PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Big data is big business worth billions of dollars.
Most people and industries support consumer privacy protections. But there are major sticking points and the federal government has not acted.
Several states, including Oregon, are working to pass their own privacy laws. The Oregon legislature is considering passing consumer privacy laws to regulate how companies collect, use, store and share your personal information.
In general, Senate Bill 619 would give consumers the right to know what data is being collected, give consumers the right to correct inaccurate data, the right to opt-out of data collection, heighten opt-in requirements for sensitive information and provide special protections for children.
So much of our private information siphoned from our smart devices goes unnoticed, but it’s being sold and traded behind the scenes. That’s why Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum requested lawmakers develop this bill.
“How our data is collected has been hidden from us since the inception of the internet,” Rosenblum said. “As you can imagine, there are strong feelings on all sides of this issue as businesses, small and large, rely on data to provide benefits to consumers or to target products to specific groups. But at the same time many advocates and consumers feel exploited by the unfettered collection, sharing and sale of their data, especially without their consent.”
Some major companies, like Microsoft, remain neutral on the bill.
“Those concerns have caused the public to lose trust in technology and in the technology industry and the only way to earn that trust back, in our view, is to pass new laws,” said Ryan Harkins, the senior director of policy with Microsoft.
But Steve Bass, the president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting, points out the unintended consequences on journalism without proper provisions.
“It could require journalists to turn over information gathered during their reporting activities,” Bass said. “It could lead to demands to retract or remove truthful news stories. It could be used to weaponize and shut down investigative reporting of a journalist.”
Over and over, though, the one major area industries oppose is enforcement.
“The business community has been very clear from the outset that a private right of action would kill the legislation from our perspective,” said Fawn Barrie with the Oregon Liability Reform Coalition.
As the bill is currently written, if a company violates a consumer’s privacy rights by collecting and using their information without their consent, the consumer may have the right to sue the company for damages.
Businesses shared concerns about this leading to frivolous litigation and costly class action lawsuits.
“Education and enforcement should be prioritized instead of encouraging lawsuits,” Barrie said.
Many groups came out in support of this bill, pointing that the private right to sue would give this law teeth.
While everyone at the table in Salem acknowledged the collaboration it took to craft this privacy legislation, the bill has a long road ahead.