Proposed legislation that gives people access to their own data

March 25th, 2008 by Grace Meng

I totally missed this.

Even thought I thought this New York Times article on data collection wasn’t very informative, a New York legislator was sufficiently moved to propose this legislation.

Michael Zimmer has some interesting comments about the proposed bill and some of its weaknesses, as well as a strength:

“The bill is strongest, however, in relation to a demand I have long made on Web search providers: let me see the data you have collected about my actions. The bill states:

17. Business entities shall provide consumers with reasonable access to personally identifiable information and other information that is associated with personally identifiable information retained by the third party entity for online preference marketing uses.

The press seems to have missed the importance of this section. If passed, the law would require Google, Facebook, DoubleClick, etc to provide me access to the personally identifiable information ‘and other information that is associated’ with my user account stored in their databases.

This is a vital right for consumers to be able to protect their data privacy: having access to view your data is the first step towards regaining some control over the collection of the data in the first place.”

The challenge–and it’s a worthy one–is how could this information be provided to us in a way that makes it useful and relevant? I’d like to see a law providing access to my own data that is more meaningful to me than HIPAA feels when I’m faced with a sheaf of waivers to sign at my doctor’s office.

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