As we spend more and more of their lives online, it’s vital that we protect the internet from efforts to turn it into a privacy-free zone where our every keystroke and click is monitored, stored, and sold. According to a Pew Research survey, 91 percent of adults believe that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.
Many operators of commercial websites and online services collect a tremendous amount of highly personal information from Oregonians. This can include facts about our health, finances, location, politics, religion, sexual orientation, and shopping habits. Many operators share this information with third parties, including advertisers and data brokers. This information has great financial value, so pressure to collect and share it will continue to grow.
We live more and more of our lives online. Our sensitive personal information, pooled into ever-larger reservoirs of data, can be sold to the highest bidder, stolen by those who intend to abuse and misuse it, and seized by or sold to government investigators. Legislation is needed to protect the privacy and physical safety of Oregonians—particularly children and domestic violence and stalking victims—from dangers posed by the collection, sharing and selling of our data.
- “Right to Know” provisions in HB 2866 will empower visitors to learn what personal information is gathered about them when they visit websites and online services and use digital electronic devices that connect to the Internet, and who that information is shared with or sold to. This will ensure that people can obtain the information they need to make fact-based decisions about where and how they want to spend their time online and which applications and digital devices they want to use.
- Geolocation privacy protections in HB 2866 will protect Oregonians by making it unlawful for private parties to track, share or sell geolocation information collected from our smartphones or other mobile devices without our explicit permission.
- Audiovisual privacy protections in HB 2866 will protect data that may be collected when our devices’ microphones listen and cameras watch our most intimate information. If a corporation is using an internet-connected device to listen or watch, or to share or sell that information, then it should clearly tell consumers when they will do so, for what purpose, and first obtain permission.
Update: Although this bill did not pass, it prompted the creation of a task force, convened by the Attorney General, to develop recommendations for statewide privacy legislation. We view this as a positive outcome and are excited to participate in the task force's work.