A little privacy, please
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Right. Facebook had a an API that Dave away a lot of data and some people got a hold of it and used it to try to influence our election. That's a big issue. I mean, people have a right to be very upset. I'm upset that that happened while in the wake of that. There was a real estate developer name Alastair McTaggart who spent three million dollars to put forth a ballot proposal that would create some really robust protections for consumers around their data. Now, get this all the time. Why do I care about privacy? I got nothing to hide. I don't care what I buy. I live this boring. Life. People say that to me I say to them. Well, the point is not just about you. It's about society and the initiative was gathering so much momentum that at the last minute, he brokered a compromise with the legislature and with tech companies and the result was a California privacy law that is going to take effect in twenty twenty assembly built three seventy five. It's the California consumer Privacy Act of two thousand eighteen and it deals with how companies collect and use our data. It creates a whole new set of protections. That Americans have never had access to before. And what exactly does that regulation? Do. So the new law does a few things play the biggest is it just grants consumers the right to know. What information companies are collecting about them why they're collecting that data and who they're sharing it with. Right. So pretty basic stuff, but stuff that we have so far not had any right to it. Also gives us the right to tell companies to delete our information and not to sell or share it and businesses must give us if we often out the same quality of service. We were getting when we were giving them our data. So that's a pretty nice set of features that so far has been denied to us in America. And so how does that compare to what's on the books nationally is that just far beyond what we have already? So it's interesting that in America, we don't really have a comprehensive federal. Law around data privacy. Instead, we tend to regulate it by sector. So you might have heard of hippo which sort of controls the way that health did it can be shared. There's for which applies to school health records. And then there's something called Coppa which regulates data privacy. But only for kids under the age of thirteen. Why do they all sound like Pokemon or something they're they're adorable laws with teeth? Okay. Good good. And you know, in addition of those the Federal Trade Commission has at times tried to enforce data privacy standards or kind of set standards. But as you might imagine tech companies have pushed back on that and told them that they do not have the jurisdiction to do that. And how did tech companies in Silicon Valley react to the law California passed? So they reacted in two ways. The first was to say that they supported the law very strongly at the second way was by trying to undermine it. And make sure that it never takes effect the way that they're doing that is by lobbying for a national Bill that will supersede the California legislation and privacy advocates are really really worried that a national law if and when it comes to pass is going to be much weaker than the one that was passed here. Why appear to support it? And then, you know, through back channels and lobbying try to get a national law passed, so lobbyists aren't dumb. They know that there is probably more attention being paid to data privacy right now than at any time in history in Europe. We have a regulatory framework called the general data regulation protections. We need a similar internet Bill of rights here in the United. States. We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to people's privacy. And they know that it's not going to be a popular position. If companies like Facebook and Google come out and say, well, we actually don't think consumers do have a right to know data were collecting or who were selling it to. So they know that that would look really bad. They're also deeply worried though that there will be a patchwork of legislation that gets passed across the country. They would have minor variations in what kinds of data consumers could request or what sort of actions, they would take which would just make it very difficult for them to operate a national service. And so they're hoping they can get one consistent piece of legislation that can apply to the whole country. So they essentially only have to rewrite their software once. What kind of laws might come out of a federal effort here? Well, there was a what they called a listening session in California this month, where people on both sides of this issue talked about that exact thing and lobbyists for the tech companies said that they are not trying to weaken the law and just that there are some inconsistencies in it. For example. The law says both that individuals can request data but also households can request data. And so they raised the possibility that you might be able to request all of the data that Facebook has about your roommate, which was presumably not the intent of the law. So they're hoping to kind of iron out some of those kinks at least they're saying publicly. Of course, it would also not be at all surprising, if the national law, you know, didn't have quite the teeth that the California one does should it be reassuring that California was able to do this considering how powerful and wealthy. These companies are even their home state was able to legislate around. Them in a way that they don't seem to like, I think so although I would also note the tech companies are really bad at getting what they want right? Like, they're all of these examples where tech companies are radically opposed to something and it happens. Anyway, for example, all of the big tech companies are heavily invested in the idea of immigration reform. They want more H one B visa, so they can get more workers from overseas to build new software. They've been fighting that battle for it feels like a decade and they've gotten absolutely nowhere on it. There was a piece of legislation that went into law last year called foster and sesa- which was purported to stop sex trafficking. It winds up regulating a lot of speech on the internet that is about sex that has made it impossible for a lot of online. Forums to even host any discussions of sex for fear that they will be held liable and potentially driven out of business that was something that all of the tech companies opposed until. Will you know, suddenly they didn't and they essentially got steamrolled by a bunch of other forces. So even when the tech industry puts its mind to something. It's it's not always very good at getting what it wants. And that's the spite the fact that lobbying spending. These tech companies has been increasing exponentially for a decade is the kind of thing that both parties agree is a priority. You know, in California, the Democrats have super majority control of the legislature. So, you know, there was essentially no risk that Republicans could have derailed this even if they wanted to, but nationally it would seem that data privacy is bipartisan issue, if you look at the hearings that were held in congress last year with all of the big tech companies while they weren't always about data privacy issues, specifically for the most part Republicans and Democrats were asking pretty pointed questions about what kinds of data these companies collect in what they're doing with it. So it doesn't seem impossible that will see. A bipartisan compromise here. Do you think something could happen this year? So when I was in DC last year, I spoke with some congressional staffers who told me that they did expect. There was going to be kind of a mad dash before the California law takes effect next year to get something into place. I think you're gonna see a lot of pressure on them to figure out some kind of national law. Casey new reports on Silicon Valley for the verge. He's got a daily newsletter called the interface all about Facebook in democracy. You can find it at the verge dot com slash interface. Gear Swisher spent a lot of time talking to the most powerful people in Silicon Valley. I asked her what more privacy and value for our data might look like after the break. Okay. So you've got your big banks that charge all sorts of high fees, and maybe use your money to fund the things that you might not agree with? And then there's this Bank called aspirin that wants to do better. They've been featured in Forbes and the New York Times and money magazine, which I've actually never read that sounds like a good one. They offer a one percent annual percentage yield zero ATM fees anywhere in the world and the option to choose your own monthly fee. Even if it's zero I think there was a nine inch nails album that worked like that. Once aspiration commits ten percent of their earnings to charities that help other Americans and does not use any of its money to fund oil pipelines or drilling. If that sounds good to you. You can put your money where your heart is and download the aspiration app right now. Open up an account. You earn one percent annual interest pay zero ATM fees, and who knows maybe, you know, make the world a better place while you're at it. privacy. There's a famous quote by Scott mcnealy from when he was running SUN Microsystems, somebody said there's no such thing as privacy get used to it zero privacy. And I think he's probably right. Like, I in fact, he's very right right now. But control of your data is what this should be about. Do we have a right to control all of our data because it feels like the trade off? We're making is we get all these services for free and in exchange, we surrender all of our information. It's just it's just knowledge of it. Right. Yeah. Like, you're gonna be giving what your liver now? Like if you didn't really understand that you'll be like, oh, wait a minute. And I think it's explained in plain English if you understand where it's going. I think control absolutely like they can't use it for purposes that you weren't intended to since you can't intimidate everything you should be told when they're doing unusual things with it should be super simple to understand where your data's going and how it moves around the internet there. So. Many players here federal lawmakers fifty states so many companies what will it take to get this right for the entire country. You know, a national privacy law some sort of privacy law that that it makes sense doesn't squash innovation right? You don't wanna make it too onerous for small companies to deal with all this data that, you know, the the issue is when some of these things when they're two owners, the googles and Facebooks of the world do great because they have teams of lawyers. That's what's happening in Europe. So it's really hard to create a startups because they have to follow these very difficult laws that are hard to do. And the question is the other one is that these companies can lobby, you know, they have lobbyists they act like they're like simple folk with their hoodies, but they've got huge James of lobbyists now. Yeah. And so you have you have legislators like Chuck Schumer who's really friendly with Facebook, for example or friendly with Google or others who doesn't want as much legislation. Yep. You know, Alexander your Costco is written quite a bit about this issue. The power of tech companies on Twitter. Which is ironic, obviously. But there's there's gotta be a way to come to the middle of what works for businesses, and what works for consumers, I would opt for consumers always. And that's what legislators should be doing. But obviously that happens. Never the US is a special case, obviously next to Europe. We we're not as crazy about over-regulating business, right, Oregon. All right. Exactly. Yeah. What do you think makes sense for the United States when it comes to data privacy? I think it's very clear where there's I did a story for the New York Times of column about the internet Bill of rights, and it had a number of different ideas. And it's not one can't have one internet Bill of rights, but you can have is an idea around a couple of things. I would I would think control of your data when you give someone data. It's just for them and it stops there. And they can't use it for other things. Just a knowledge of it. You can't click every time because that's gonna make you not pay. Attention just gonna keep clicking. Because I, you know, I really want this dating app or whatever it is the scrutiny. Sure. Scooters? Whatever. And so there should be a clear signal when you're signing and plain English. This is what we're going to do with your data. And then when they do something else with it to to inform you and tell you about it. And then when they one of the things I think is critical when there's a hack that they have to tell you immediately like immediately like look even apple didn't tell us about this problem with the FaceTime for a week. Right. And then what happens you get all these attorney generals come in law and nothing happens. And so they should just say, look if there's a big hacking, you've gotta say like right away, even as you're trying to figure it out that you warn people. So they can change their passwords or whatever how do the sort of, you know, good intentions of Silicon Valley complicate this. The fact that you know, Google's motto is don't be evil or it's been a little worn out. Alphabets motto is do the right thing. That's a little worse for wear. I don't know. I was there when they talk talked to me about that particular thing. Right. When they were thinking of it. It was just ridiculous. It was ridiculous PR. I'm sorry. I know what they were thinking like this idea. It's like. Whoa. Wait a minute. Do we assume evil like you know, what I mean? Like, wait. We didn't why do we have to declare don't be able where you considering evil. I'd rather them. Just be honest and say, listen, you create an enormous amount of data moving through your day by wandering around using your phone using the maps ordering pizza blank, you know, playing the game dating your treasure trove of information that we can then sell back to you in the form of ads, and we're going to do that. And here's how we're going to do it. And maybe they should pay us Gavin Newsom ideas about this in California. Maybe they should like look care. We make fifty dollars off you you want twenty of it. I don't know. I just it should be. It's should be a more a relationship, essentially, you are they hate this expression. You it's an and Tim cook from apple uses because they don't trade an dated this way, although they certainly benefit from Google search. They get billions of dollars, you know, everybody's sort of jacked into the system of information. And but he does say this is raise your the product. I don't know if you're the product, but I just recently interviewed Roger McNamee who's written a book called sucked. He's like you're not the product you're the fuel. And it's true. I think that's a better way to put it your the fuel that that makes them gives people insights, not allows marketers to reach you. And so there's got to be a new system. It's more creative. They wanna be so creative, and they don't want to be evil. What's the what are the things? They can do to give you these great services benefit from the financial and also help you and protect you. So we heard from Casey up top that were definitely going to see a push for national data privacy legislation this year. What do you think the chances are of something actually getting past not good? Not good. But you never know. I mean, there's certain it's got to go through the committees. I think it goes through the commerce committee in the house and the same thing in the Senate doesn't have a sponsor yet in the Senate. But there's a lot of people interested in the topic. And what it looks like, you know, I Nancy Pelosi was very committed to the idea of it. But she's got her hands full. She got the crazy freshmen over here, and this and that and also you're going into. The the presidential election and privacy. Doesn't ring quite as true is healthcare like universal healthcare or Medicare for all. Or you know, it doesn't it's not as sexy a topic. Like, we would like to protect your data. Oh, thank you. Sloganeering? Yeah. It doesn't. And it's not a great thing. Although Amy klobuchar in her announcement when she had the snow falling on her head that was one of her was right up in the top of her platforms. Regulation of tech, which was the first big the others talk about it. But it was right front and center for her. I don't know what her prospects are nationally. But it it was interesting that she picked that. And she's quite there's a lot of very adept legislators on this topic. Mark Warner Rokon of his congressman Michael Bennet from there's a bunch. There's a bunch of very people who do understand these issues, and including in governors like Gavin Newsom in California or Jared policy in cal-, Colorado, certainly knows he comes from an internet background tons of attorney general's or dying to lawsuits on these things which is not the way we should do this lawsuits. And in the meantime, I guess we should just brace ourselves for another scandal or two before anything happens scandal. It's gonna keep happening. The more you load. Jack yourself in the system the more. They they have the ability for mistakes to happen. And most of them are mistakes. They're not malevolent, but they are malevolent because they're gonna fix them eventually becomes willful ignorance of of of enormous amounts of data, and you sort of just roll over and go crap like cheese we's them again. And there, and then you're like, oh, they deliver really quickly, and I like them, and right, and ultimately become a creature of their what they want. So. But they have good delivery. Jerry Swisher hosts to tech podcasts once called Rico decode the other one is pivot. I'm Sean Rotherham. I host just one podcast today explained, and we launched this podcast one year ago today. Thanks again to ask raisin for supporting the show today. 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