Online privacy is a touchy subject, with all of us falling on different parts of the how-much-do-I-actually-care spectrum. In general, though, most people seem to understand that the companies whose products we use or rely on daily, like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, are collecting a lot of data on them. The creepiness factor is real, which is why we saw things like the EU's GDPR and California's Consumer Privacy Act appear. In the wake of these, as well as some other problems, a collection of technology giants have come together to lobby for a new federal privacy law, one that returns some of the power back to them.
The gist is that Google et al want federal legislation to overrule the California law — the one which states that users have the right to know what data is being collected, why it's being collected, and with/to whom it is shared/sold. In its place would be lighter restrictions on these companies, turning things (i.e. privacy) back in their favor. According to the New York Times, California's law, even in its proposal phase, represented a grave concern for them while simultaneously earning the approval of consumer privacy groups.
While some of you might laugh at the discomfort of these tech companies, one of their concerns is quite valid. If a federal law isn't made, then it's left to the states to set their own restrictions for online privacy. This could lead to wildly different and/or inconsistent policies across state lines, severely hampering the ability of these companies to do business. That could have significant impact on the end user, aka you and me.
That's why companies like IBM and Salesforce have joined in the lobbying group. These sell products to businesses, not make money on targeted ads, which is why they haven't seemed to care before now. But a horribly diverse range of state-level privacy laws could spell trouble for them, too.
I think it's obvious that something needs to happen, whether we get each state adopting some form of California's law or full-on federal legislation. Whatever it may be, it definitely stands to affect all of us.
- New York Times