Tag Archives: bill

Consumer Protection is hot in Cali

California – already known for their progress in pushing issues surrounding privacy advocacy and consumer protection – are again trying to shift the norm by requiring companies to (upon request by the consumer) to disclose all data they’ve collected on you as part of any producer/consumer transaction. Whether it be a good or service – online or offline – the “Right to Know Act of 2013” would require businesses to keep accurate and detailed records of any customer data that they’re received from you. Particularly important in this proposal was the stipulation that would also require businesses to keep track of who else gets access to your consumer data.
            This may not seem like a huge deal, because at the moment, current Californian law states that customers have the right to request accounting of disclosures of direct marketing purposes (for example, you call and find out your local telephone company has been doing small-time selling of your home phone number to advertising agencies). However, the new proposal sheds light on what is otherwise a very non-descriptive and loose boundary setting law that protects consumers right now. It provides consumers with additional tools and resources too truly see where their data is going – including access to their own information sold to online advertisers, data brokers and third-party apps.
            Although this is doesn’t seem like an enormous move in terms of protecting consumers, California has had a knack for testing good consumer-protection legislation only to be later similarly adopted in other states. It’s important that we as consumers continue to keep up with the ideas that we as consumers are worth more than individual buyers – our power comes from the fact that we are the sum of many parts. How important do you think it is that consumers push to strengthen and further define our rights as capitalism in America becomes more and more digitized?

The ageless issue of privacy at work

A bill amendment proposed yesterday – if passed – would allow potential employers to demand for your Facebook or other social media passwords during company investigations for employees in Washington state. Odd this amendment’s goal is – as one of the original bill’s sole purposes was to bar employers from even requesting for social media passwords during a job interview. Instead, this amendment decided to take the argument in the opposite direction and actually restrict our right to privacy as paid employees even further. Specifically – the amendment allows an employer to ‘require or demand’ access to a personal account if this current employee – or any prospective employees – has allegations of work-place misconduct, where the allegation would require an official investigation to determine legitimacy.

However even the small amount of literature concerning the investigation is spotty and non-specific at best, which in turn has most people worried about the potential for exploitation in this amendment. The general consensus among the opposed is obviously reasoned, “why on earth should employees be held responsible for what they do on a social networking site”, especially as the national trend is moving away from this type of thing. In fact – seven states this year have banned employers from asking applicants/employees social network passwords, and 33 states are considering similar legislation.

So why is this issue so important, and why now? My main question here is why employers all of a sudden deem it necessary rip open your private, digital life in order to meet hiring requirements. How has technology changed in the past couple years, causing this issue to become relevant and important today?  Has there been a ‘low-tech’ (i.e. not an online social) network of this kind to facilitate the breaching of employer-employee privacy in the past?