Wired: Privacy Isn’t a Right You Can Click Away


Wired: Privacy Isn’t a Right You Can Click Away

Senator Sherrod Brown wants to drastically scale back the permitted uses of your personal data—and ban facial recognition outright. 

BE HONEST—HAVE YOU ever read a privacy disclosure? Even once?

Facebook’s data privacy policy is more than 4,000 words. It contains dozens of links to hundreds of pages of complex terms and agreements. Even if you had the time to read it, you’d need a law degree and a data science background to understand which rights you’re signing away and what frightening experiments Facebook is cooking up with your private life as raw material.

And even if you do have handfuls of advanced degrees and a superhuman ability to read the hundreds of privacy policies you agree to every year, clicking No isn’t a realistic option when you depend on the service. So most of us click Yes and agree to sign away our information, because our credit cards, mortgages, car loans, bank accounts, health apps, smart phones, and email accounts all require us to. It’s simply the price of admission.

Privacy is a civil right. But corporations force you to sign it away every day.

There’s a reason these privacy and data agreements are impossible to understand and to avoid: They were never meant to protect you—they are meant to protect Big Tech.

We don’t expect citizens to be aeronautical engineers, making sure they understand all the risks of flying, and then sign a form giving away their right to sue if the plane goes down. In the same way, we can’t expect everyone to be a privacy expert just so they can protect their families from corporations that want to exploit their data.

To reclaim our privacy we need to limit the amount of personal information that’s out there.

That’s why I wrote a bill that takes the burden off of consumers and puts it where it should be: on Big Tech. My plan separates innovative and helpful uses of data from the abusive and invasive practices that have become commonplace. It creates an agency to monitor companies that collect data and gives everyday Americans powerful legal tools to hold those companies accountable. It also bans facial recognition, an immature and dangerous technology, outright.

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