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?