In October 1970, as a response to an explosion in consumer credit, like credit cards, a law went into effect forcing credit reporting companies to follow guidelines and fix any reported issues — or face legal penalties if they didn’t.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was meant as a mechanism to allow consumers the ability to have credit errors investigated and fixed as well as limiting the access to an individual’s credit report and history.
In a sense, the law is there to regulate how your credit information is collected and accessed.
On Friday, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general are reportedly launching antitrust probes into Facebook and Google.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a group of colleagues to “examine the impact of Google on digital advertising markets,” according to unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Another bipartisan group of attorneys general, led by New York AG Letitia James, is expected to announce a separate probe Monday into Facebook — similar to Google, probing privacy and consumer data usage.
Currently, the internet is more like the Wild West. There are no real laws.
Hackers are proving to be the modern-day hired guns, brought in to pirate data or hack large companies and governments.
The innocent, out of fear of being in the crossfire, choose to hide behind screen names or have a severely limited presence like citizens scurrying when gunslingers meet in the main street of an old Western town.
Now is the perfect time for the government to step in and help those innocents — like you and me.
Much like the Man With No Name in spaghetti western movies of old, it is the perfect landscape for a hero to protect those of us who don’t want our data sold to the highest bidder, and those of us who don’t want a conversation or web search we had three days ago turn into an inundation of web ads targeting every site we visit.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act may not be the perfect mimic for such action, but it can serve as a template.
We should have control over our data, much like we have some control over our credit reporting. Someone needs permission to access our credit history, and the same should be true for data.
I don’t mean a blanket terms-of-service statement no one looks at. But, every time one company approaches another wanting access to our data, we should be notified and have to give consent for that access.
It’s similar to when you apply for a car loan. You fill out a form and give consent for the auto dealer to access your credit information. Similar with banks and other financial institutions.
Why should the same not be true of our precious personal data?
It should matter what companies are seeking the data and what they intend to do with it. We have the right to know that upfront.
It is time for someone to step in and start talking about really protecting our data. Not halfhearted measures that have more holes in them than Swiss cheese, but something with teeth.
It’s time for a Clint Eastwood-type character to come in and start protecting the innocent and their data.