- A new bill introduced in Congress last week wants consumers to have a say in how their online information, including browsing histories, are sold, Recode reports. The bill would mean broadband companies, search engines, social networks and other website would require customer input before they can sell the data to advertisers.
- The bill, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R–TN, and called the Browser Act, targets a broad number of companies, from Amazon and Google to Facebook, AT&T and Comcast. If a consumer does not want their information shared, companies would not be permitted to deny them service, Record reports.
- The American Civil Liberties Union and several other privacy groups don't back the bill because they question Blackburn's approach to privacy. Meanwhile, tech and telecom giants do not support the bill because they do not see the need for new regulation, according to the report.
Privacy has become the hot-button issue in Congress this year, and tech companies are at the forefront of many of those battles. But so far, the Browser Act has little support from anyone and no co-sponsors, so it may be short-lived.
Even if it did succeed, the logistics of slowing the massive internet-based advertising machine now that it’s fully formed and running at full speed could prove very difficult.
At the same time, consumers are increasingly frustrated by companies that gather their data either without their knowledge or by agreeing to terms of service that are too lengthy or difficult to understand.
For example, in April, Unroll.me, an email de-cluttering service, came under fire for selling user data to third parties, and Uber in particular. Unroll.me, which is owned by Slice Intelligence, reportedly gathered Lyft data in Unroll.me users' inboxes, then sold it to Lyft rival Uber.