Economy

Washington targets tech giants on data disclosure

US legislators want Google, Facebook and other tech giants to place a price on personal data

  • New legislation aims to make tech companies reveal the value of users personal information
  • Two senators from both US parties will introduce the regulation, called Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (Dashboard) Act on Monday
  • The idea of the regulation is to help consumers better understand how their data is used and ensure that tech companies provide a higher level of transparency

Washington has been watching Silicon Valley closely. While earlier this month, US Washington lawmakers started to investigate some of the biggest tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to review the activities of these global giants regarding anti-trust practices, now legislators are committed to demanding these companies to put a price on user personal data.

For years, social media companies have told consumers that their products are free to the user. But that’s not true – you are paying with your data instead of your wallet,” Senator Mark Warner said in a press release Monday. “But the overall lack of transparency and disclosure in this market have made it impossible for users to know what they’re giving up, who else their data is being shared with, or what it’s worth to the platform“.

In a rare moment when Democrats and Republicans find themselves in accordance with the idea that the tech industry has been unregulated for too long, Democrat Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley will introduce a bipartisan legislation called Dashboard (Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data).

According to Axios, the regulation aims to ensure that these big tech companies, the ones with more than 100 million monthly users that get revenue from collecting/processing user data, disclose what kind of data they are gathering, how it is used, and to give an assessment of the value of this information in a regular basis.

These companies take enormous, enormous amounts of data about us… If you’re an avid Facebook user, chances are Facebook knows more about you than the U.S. government knows about you. People don’t realize one, how much data is being collected; and two, they don’t realize how much that data is worth“, said Warner in an interview to Axios.

Some of these companies are reluctant, saying that it’s not possible to calculate the exact value of particular portions of data in an industry that uses data over many different platforms, all delivering different services and from many kinds of business models.

But Washington seems very committed to pushing on with the regulations no matter what Facebook, Google, and other tech giants claim.