Proposed “do not sell my data” bill could be key for domestic violence survivors

The Federal Trade Commission notes the lack of a general federal privacy statute to regulate personal data.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 11:20 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Data brokers are services that collect, compile and sell your personal data. They can be used for anything from targeted ads to targeted violence. That’s according to domestic abuse advocates like Erica Olsen, from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“You have these companies who collect loads and loads of personal information about people, and they make it available for a cheap price,” Olsen said.

Olsen applauds the Federal Trade Commission for the work it’s done so far to regulate data brokers. But the FTC admits what they can do is limited.

“In the U.S., we don’t have a general federal privacy statute, unlike other countries,” said Bob Schoshinski, assistant director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. “And so sort of the work that we do in this area is mostly enforcement.

That puts the issue of data privacy in the hands of the survivor. Most data brokers have a way for consumers to opt out, but not without handing over more information digitally or over the phone.

Dr. Thomas Kadri from the University of Georgia School of Law describes that process as frustrating, invasive and time consuming. He thinks action from Congress is needed.

A bill from Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) could be the start. It’s called the DELETE Act. It would create a centralized system for data deletion across all data brokers.

“We have do not call,” said Cassidy. “So why don’t we have do not sell my my data?”

“We’re working in a bipartisan way, working across the aisle,” said Ossoff.

The bill is moving through committee, and the senators say they’re committed to getting it passed.