Silicon Valley has pissed off a great number of people, particularly in 2018, so promising to grab Mark Zuckerberg by the short hairs and rein in his company’s misuse of personal data seems like a pretty good way to rally the troops. It’s not Facebook alone, of course, but every company trading in the intimate details of other people’s lives—information, often deeply personal, that’s amassed by faceless, profit-driven entities whose sole purpose is digitally stalking users around the internet, day after day after day.
Hoping to seize upon the universal disdain the electorate feels for tech companies that abuse their privacy, the Democrats have concocted a plan to beat back the data vampires—a little incentive for those still on the fence in this November election. They’re calling it an “Internet Bill of Rights.”
Laid out in a New York Times column Friday, Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, has proposed a series of 10 principals that, should his party reclaim control of the House of Representatives, he hopes to pass next year in the form of law. Khanna’s list states foremost that users should have access to all of the information collected about them by private companies and full knowledge of how that information is being used. It further states that Americans have the right to opt-in consent with regard to the collection and sharing of their personal data.
Khanna was reportedly tasked with producing the list by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who, depending on the midterm election’s outcome, may return to her former role as Speaker of the House. In crafting the list, the congressman, whose district is home to many of America’s top tech companies, spoke to some of “tech’s biggest brains,” according to the Times, including former Obama White House CTO Nicole Wong and World Wide Web inventor Sr. Tim Berners-Lee. Apple, Facebook, Google, and other top companies were likewise consulted.
Pelosi and Khanna have both reportedly expressed that Silicon Valley may not be entirely against the idea, having come to understand over the past year that the tides are turning against them.
Below are the ten principals that make up Khanna’s draft bill of rights. Naturally, some of the terms are pretty vague: “reasonable business practices and accountability,” for instance. Hopefully, if the list is ever translated into legislation, the right experts will be called on to help lawmakers define what terms like “reasonable” really means.
The Internet Bill of Rights:
You should have the right:
1. to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies;
2. to opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party;
3. where context is appropriate and with a fair process, to obtain, correct or delete personal data controlled by any company and to have those requests honored by third parties;
4. to have personal data secured and to be notified in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered;
5. to move all personal data from one network to the next;
6. to access and use the Internet without Internet service providers blocking, throttling, engaging in paid prioritization or otherwise unfairly favoring content, applications, services or devices;
7. to Internet service without the collection of data that is unnecessary for providing the requested service absent opt-in consent;
8. to have access to multiple viable, affordable Internet platforms, services and providers with clear and transparent pricing;
9. not to be unfairly discriminated against or exploited based on your personal data; and
10. to have an entity that collects your personal data have reasonable business practices and accountability to protect your privacy.