Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey on Tuesday introduced a bill meant to regulate online data harvesting conducted by digital giants such as Facebook and Google that’s somewhat akin to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation set to go into effect on the Old Continent next month. The bill is called Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions, with its sponsors referring to it as the “CONSENT Act” for short. The legislation mandates Internet companies to draft “reasonable security practices” meant to ensure the safety of all user data they collect and requires them to communicate their data harvesting activities in a more straightforward manner to consumers.
If enacted, the law would be enforced by the United States Federal Trade Commission and is aimed at preventing another Cambridge Analytica scandal from happening. The introduction of the CONSENT Act came just hours before Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of two Senate committees over the firm’s recent privacy controversies, having ended up enduring approximately five hours of questioning that revealed little about the company’s business and plans outside of what was already known and communicated by the social media giant itself.
Mr. Zuckerberg recently announced Facebook will be limiting third-party access to data collected using its APIs in an effort to combat data misuse, which is an approach that not everyone agrees with; Jedidiah Yueh, founder and Executive Chairman of data technology company Delphix that had Facebook on its client roster, believes the social media giant’s decision to limit third-party access to data goes against the primary purpose of the platform – sharing. “Uploading information, posts, photos, videos, that’s the nature of Facebook,” the industry veteran said in an interview with AndroidHeadlines, having added that Facebook should be looking to “make sure people don’t access the wrong data” like what happened in the Cambridge Analytica episode instead of making data more inaccessible in general.
The European Union will start enforcing GDPR on May 25, with Facebook already promising many changes it’s introducing to adhere to the new regulations will benefit everyone and not just Europeans. While the company’s users from other parts of the world may not receive identical privacy management tools their European peers will, those that Facebook is planning to introduce outside of Europe will still be made with the spirit of GDPR in mind and with respect to applicable laws, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested earlier this month. Microsoft is also understood to be planning a similar move and should revise its products and services to be GDPR-compliant on a global level despite the fact that it’s only legally bound to do so in Europe.