SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Dickson: Should we have a consumer right to privacy?

Apr 20, 2024, 11:00 AM

The word "privacy" is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. But with technology changing things by the ...

The word "privacy" is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. But with technology changing things by the second, some are asking if consumers have a right to data privacy. (Kristin Murphy /Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy /Deseret News)

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Ever since Facebook and Google changed from being primarily social and search companies to data collection companies, the question keeps coming up – whose data is it? It’s about me, but does it belong to Meta and Google or me?

In other words, do I have a consumer right to privacy?

“I absolutely think we should have a right to privacy. I think it is a fundamental right,” said Robbyn Scribner, co-founder and director of outreach for Tech Moms. “But whether or not we should have it and whether or not we can enforce it are two different questions.”

“Privacy” is not in the U.S. Constitution

The word “privacy” is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. We infer a right to privacy from other provisions, like the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” and the Fourteenth Amendment’s use of the word “liberty.”

“When you talk about it not being in the constitution,” Scriber said, “who could have even conceived that we would need it? Most people’s entire lives were only exposed to the people within 15 miles of them. The way they would have thought of privacy would be fundamentally different from the way we think of it today.”

Related: FTC investigating TikTok over privacy and security

There is a bipartisan proposal being developed in Washington right now that would define privacy as a consumer right and create new rules for data collection companies to follow.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers want to require companies like Meta and Google to have to get our consent before they can collect (and then sell or transfer) our data.

Plus, these companies would have to show that the algorithms they use to analyze our data aren’t biased.

Europe is ahead of us

“It’s interesting to watch what’s happening in Europe and the way they are working to enforce laws,” Scriber explained.

The EU already passed a data privacy law. The General Data Privacy Protection Act (GDPR) went into effect in 2018 to protect personal data and the movement of that data.

European countries appear serious about enforcing these privacy protections. Meta received a record $1.2 billion fine in Ireland for violating the GDPR.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Dickson: Should we have a consumer right to privacy?