New bill could force Facebook, Google to disclose value of users' data

Marco Green
June 25, 2019

It comes as bipartisan support grows in Congress for a privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of the biggest tech companies to collect and make money from users' personal data. A law could shrink big tech's crucial revenues from advertising.

"For years, social media companies have told consumers that their products are free to the user".

Warner, who amassed a fortune as a tech industry investor and executive before entering politics, and Hawley, a freshman and conservative who pursued investigations of Google and Facebook's business practices as Missouri attorney general, have been especially active in the debate over big tech. The Securities and Exchange Commission would be in charge of developing the methodologies that will calculate the data's value.

Hawley said tech companies "do their best to hide how much consumer data is worth and to whom it is sold".

"If you're an avid Facebook user, chances are Facebook knows more about you than the USA government knows about you", Warner said on Axios on HBO.

The lawmakers said the bill is meant to help with an "overall lack of transparency and disclosure" from Silicon Valley, where companies offer supposedly free services in exchange for tracking often valuable information, including what users look at online, who their friends are and what they are reading. Critics have said it's nearly impossible to figure out how much someone's data is worth in a digital advertising marketplace that crosses platforms, where online behavior is combined with offline insights, packaged and auctioned off.

If approved and enforced, DASHBOARD would force major tech companies that profit off of user data to reveal the monetary value of said data.

"Boloney", Warner said of that defense. "But the overall lack of transparency and disclosure in this market have made it impossible for users to know what they're giving up, who else their data is being shared with, or what it's worth to the platform".

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has long questioned whether technology companies or Americans own their data. "Is it you or the search engine or the edge provider that is providing the service?"

Sens. Warner and Hawley serve as part of a rising bipartisan group of lawmakers that have called for greater regulation of America's largest tech companies.

In brief: While it'll probably be a while before tech companies start paying users for the data they collect - if that ever occurs at all - two senators are working to at least require companies to disclose how valuable that data is in concrete terms.

"This senator's patience is wearing very thin".

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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