Sen. Ron Wyden wants to jail CEOs who violate consumer privacy

BTW

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation intended to protect American consumers’ privacy and punish companies that fail to safeguard their data.

The proposal, dubbed the “Consumer Data Protection Act,” would attempt to limit tech giants’ control over user information while empowering the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to more aggressively pursue privacy violations.

“Consumer data collection & new technology have posed an unprecedented threat to Americans’ privacy,” Wyden said on Twitter Thursday. “The federal government & private companies have failed to implement policies that protect private data & information.”

Among the bill’s requirements, major companies would be obligated to let consumers choose whether or not their personal info can be collected and sold.

“Today’s economy is a giant vacuum for your personal information—everything you read, everywhere you go, everything you buy and everyone you talk to is sucked up in a corporation’s database,” Wyden said in a statement. “But individual Americans know far too little about how their data is collected, how it’s used and how it’s shared.”

The draft legislation also proposes that specific companies, those who store data on more than 50 million consumers or have revenue exceeding $1 billion per year, provide the federal government with “annual data protection reports” outlining how user information is being protected.

Wyden says the bill would impose major penalties, including $5 million in fines and up to 20 years in prison, against “reckless CEOs” caught misleading the FTC about their data protection practices.

The proposal also calls for the creation of  “a national Do Not Track system” that would allow consumers to bar third-party companies from monetizing their browsing habits.

“It’s time for some sunshine on this shadowy network of information sharing,” Wyden added. “My bill creates radical transparency for consumers, gives them new tools to control their information and backs it up with tough rules with real teeth to punish companies that abuse Americans’ most private information.”

Wyden’s announcement follows numerous high-profile privacy scandals, including last year’s Equifax data breach, which saw 147.9 million Americans’ sensitive information compromised by hackers.

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Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.