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Congress Now Considering New Bill On Data Privacy For Targeted Online Ads

A new report from the folks over at the Daily Wire has revealed that members of Congress are now considering a piece of legislation that would place limits on the amount of data that technology companies are able to take from users.

It’s quite creepy how social media and new generations of smartphones have been able to steal and mine all sorts of data that allows them to provide more targeted ads for users. It feels like there’s nothing private anymore these days. Things have become so bad in this area that a whole industry has been birthed around helping to secure people’s data on their smartphone devices. Because let’s face it, the vast majority of life is now connected to phones, whether we like it or not.

According to the report:

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act would adopt a “data minimization” approach toward firms’ collection of user information such that only the data points “reasonably necessary and proportionate” to specific applications — including user authentication, fraud prevention, and transaction execution — are procured. The bill advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 53-2 at the end of July.

The legislation “puts people back in control of their online data,” according to a joint statement from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). “It creates a strong national standard that will finally minimize the amount of Americans’ information companies are allowed to collect, process, and transfer. This will rein in Big Tech’s power and establish clear, robust protections for people, especially children.”

According to an analysis from Wired, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act would differ from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), under which users must consent to the use of cookies — files created by websites to track an individual’s online behavior. While the legislation does not entirely ban online targeted advertising — which is often the impetus behind sites’ collection of user data — it prohibits such advertising that is directed toward children or based upon “sensitive covered data,” including health information, precise geolocation, and private messages.

The bill is facing a bit of opposition from lawmakers out of California due to fears the legislation could potentially override the set of strict standards the state already has in place.

“It is imperative that California continues offering and enforcing the nation’s strongest privacy rights,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) went on to say, according to a report published by the Los Angeles Times, pointing out that she would work with Pallone to tackle the state’s concerns. Gavin Newsom, California’s Democrat governor is also in opposition to the legislation.

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President Joe Biden made a call for a similar piece of legislation during the most recent State of the Union speech he made, stating, “As Frances Haugen, who is here with us tonight, has shown, we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” the commander-in-chief said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.”

Haugen — who has a rather long and well-established history of donating big bucks to Democratic campaigns — put out a series of files that provided details about Facebook’s practices concerning election integrity and advertising to kids through the social media app Instagram. The report inspired several state attorneys general to open up an investigation into Instagram over the effects it has on young consumers.

“Facebook, now Meta, has failed to protect young people on its platforms and instead chose to ignore or, in some cases, double down on known manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health — exploiting children in the interest of profit,” Attorney General Maura Healey (D-MA) went on to say just last year.

At the end of the day, no company should have the right to mine our devices for personal data without being given express permission. And I think most Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, would say “no siree Bob” to that one.