New privacy bill threatens jail time for tech executives that abuse user data


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Senator Rod Wyden is introducing a new privacy-focused bill meant to force tech companies to take better care of their consumer data, which would bring severe legal consequences if they fail to do so. It seems that the government is finally concerned about the shady practices of companies like Facebook, who profit from selling access to user data to the highest bidder. 

The official name of the bill couldn't be more fitting: the “Mind Your Own Business Act”. (See the full bill here). And if it were approved, tech companies will have to be much more careful when handling other people's data.

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden is a well-known Facebook critic who recently told CNN that “Mark Zuckerberg won’t take American’s privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences”. Of course, this legislation would also have an impact on Google, Amazon, and Apple, but Facebook seems like the worst offender for the Senator.

Mind your own business act

The name is not the only good thing about this bill, as it would also provide the Federal Trade Commission with enough power to fine tech companies. In this sense, the consequences are no joke, as the bill threatens to put executives behind bars for up to 20 years if their companies are caught mishandling personal data of American citizens.

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The bill also proposes tax penalties to executive salary and fines of up to 4% of the company’s annual income.  

The “Mind Your Own Business Act” would force tech companies to include a “one-click solution” for users to opt-out of their tracking and targeted ads programs. On top of that, social networks would also be required to develop “privacy-protecting” versions of their platforms.

If the bill is approved, consumer advocacy groups could gain the ability to sue companies for privacy violations. Additionally, State Attorneys General would be able to enforce the bill too, putting a much-needed pressure on tech companies that consider themselves to be above the law.  

Without a doubt, the “Mind Your Own Business Act” could be a breath of fresh air in a political landscape where digital-privacy bills are scarce. 

California's Consumer Privacy Act is also a good example, and it’s worth mentioning that these bills wouldn’t override each other, allowing individual states to introduce additional laws that they consider to be necessary.

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Fabrizio Bulleri
Fabrizio Bulleri is a tech reporter with several years of experience covering the Asian tech market. He likes traveling and keeping up with everything digital-related. [email protected]