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BusinessPolicies & Politics

Big Companies Fight Tooth & Nail Against California Consumer Privacy Measure

As soon as I go home, I lock the door. Eventually, I close the blinds and curtains. I also lock the doors of my vehicles and fences. I keep my wallet to myself and no one really knows how much is in my credit union account. But when it comes to social media, Baby, I’ll let you know when I picked my nose … and how!

Privacy? Nah, I Have Nothing To Hide!

Pacman Google Lobby Against Consumer Privacy

OK, so the social media tidbit was heavy-handed, but not far off the truth. How many times have you heard someone telling you they have nothing to hide? While this might be probably true 95% of the time for all of us, that remaining 5% is an awful gambit to take. But even if you are lucky, how many times have people been caught up in a legal maelstrom unwillingly? Most prisons have such horror stories. Why not protect ourselves against that? Privacy means many things to many people, and consumer advocates are telling big corporations to prove their intentions instead of public manipulations.

What do Amazon, Uber, Facebook, Google, and let’s throw in good old Microsoft have in common? They are all more or less new economy companies that should be part of the evolutive solutions consumers demand and expect. And what would happen if traditional and entrenched companies, such as AT&T and Verizon, to name a few laggards, also joined force and helped the newer companies squash consumer privacy laws? You pretty much get the situation you have today where California is trying to not only enforce the European GDPR but, as it has done many times in the past, vote an even tougher consumer protection law that allows for access of data taken, something all companies are resisting with well-funded pockets. These companies have gone into full hardcore lobby mode while romancing the consumer.

Lobby Against Consumer Privacy

A campaign has risen almost completely funded by a Bay Area real estate developer named Alastair Mactaggart called the California Consumer Privacy Act. To date, he has spent $3 million on the campaign and argues that there’s so much money in this powerful industry that wants to keep business as usual without regulations.

And We Thought It Was A Brand New World!

2008 scared Wall Street and it was the beginning of a sunlight of hope in the middle of an overbearing consumer world. The dollar’s value having systematically been eroded since 1959 with no left and right party consistently stabilizing it, old companies lobbying elected officials are teaming with startups and the “new economy,” whatever that means anymore, to pool even more resources and lobby even harder against laws that protect us. But see the positive image glowing when these companies advertising? There is no mention of lobbying or swaying the public’s interest.

The industry is responding in a typical faceless manner — a nameless spokesperson for the Committee to Protect California Jobs called the measure “flawed,” with many industries opposing it. According to this person, credit unions, grocers, and car manufacturers are among the many recent additions to the coalition … and he wants us to know that this is only the top of the iceberg … Dramatic Sound!

I’ve known Microsoft since its beginning. I had an IT company in New York City in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I saw the company’s domination and penchant for squashing good competition. And now Microsoft tells us that it believes privacy is a fundamental human right and that it is strong supporters of the GDPR. But where Taggart calls BS is when those companies continue and make vague generic allusions to commitments to extend the rights at the heart of GDPR to all of its customers worldwide.

In all fairness, it sounds as if Microsoft admits to lobbying when it says it has advocated for national privacy legislation in the U.S. since 2005. I can vouch that the company has been involved with that since the early 1990s. Microsoft says it believes the California measure could have unintended consequences for both businesses and consumers and that there is a better way to give consumers the privacy rights they deserve. To which Mactaggart directly asks Microsoft and all these big companies: “If your commitment to your customers’ privacy is as strong as you say it is, please, prove it.”

Laws haven’t helped much. Companies still gather astronomical amounts of user data we have no access to. The good news is that the latest research seems to point toward people becoming less personal online. Hallelullia!

Come on, folks, in a society where anyone exploits anything for a dime, do you feel safe giving multi-billion companies any data when they have professionals working around the clock to make you buy more?

Privacy Is A Mindset

Privacy is a mindset and, unfortunately, we are not taught nor trained to function this way. Come to think of it, we haven’t been trained well at all to live in this society, nor even remotely. Terms such as privacy and other suggestive freedom derivatives are fine, but you can only make a generation run for so long under the promise of hard work but great compensations.

US Army energy security strategy

Source: The Verge | Top image of Mark Zuckerberg by JD Lasica (some rights reserved), second image of Zuckerberg by Anthony Quintano (some rights reserved)




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