Should Congress create a Digital Privacy Agency?
The Online Privacy Act (OPA) is a bill being considered by Congress, focusing on the collection and use of personal information by online entities. The stated aim of the bill is to increase control over personal information for the millions of Americans using the internet, while mitigating the risk and damage of future hacks.
According to a report from Kate Cox of Ars Technica, the bill would focus on any company and/or product that “intentionally collects, processes, or maintains personal information AND transmits personal information over an electronic network.”
Compared with European counterparts, the United States has less stringent digital privacy and information protections and policies. The OPA marks an effort to increase the level of digital privacy protection for those in the United States. Two Democrats from California, Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren, introducing the bill early last month.
Digital privacy is a growing concern for Americans, with data breaches resulting in credit card, social security, phone number, and email address leaks for millions. PolitiFact estimates that 10 billion personal records have been exposed since 2005.
The collection of information, not through breaches but through forms, opt-ins and other means is also a significant aspect of the proposed bill. The Digital Privacy Agency (as created by this bill) would have purview over both aspects of digital privacy, acting as a sort of consumer advocate. The new agency would centralize authority for the enforcement of current and future privacy policies.
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