Using You for Profits

Many companies take our information and use it to make profits to enrich themselves.

Some we share with, and others get our information without our approval because it is shared with them by another vendor with whom we chose to do business.

Who Suffers

If a company who has our private and sensitive data is hacked or suffers a data breach and our information is stolen or lost, they only get a slap on the wrist with some fines and penalties, but they often remain in full operation. Their failure to follow security best practices means that we are the ones who suffer through the arduous process of re-acquiring our identity, lost money, and credit status.

How Long Will It Take

With everything, you need to do to correct your information and restore your identity will require a person to spend six months and anywhere from 100 and 200 hours to get your life back and your credit repaired. Not only that but you have to work on this when government agencies, banks, and other businesses are open (no weekends or after work.) It often requires time off work or school or using up your accrued vacation time. Some cases are so complicated that it takes years and thousands of hours to fully resolve.

Is There Government Regulation

In the EU, they instituted GDPR, but even with that, it still requires you to take affirmative action before the company can be held responsible. Currently, a few states are working on bills that will protect their citizen’s information.

Enter Maine

The Governor of Maine, Janet Mills this last week signed in to law the Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information, that prohibits those providing Internet providers from profiting off their customer’s information without their explicit permission. Currently, it is the most stringent data privacy law in the U.S. It is unique in that it is the first one that requires the citizen to opt out.

Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills said: “The internet is a powerful tool, and as it becomes increasingly intertwined with our lives, it is appropriate to take steps to protect the personal information and privacy of Maine people.”

“With this common-sense law, Maine people can access the internet with the knowledge and comfort that their personal information cannot be bought or sold by their ISPs without their express approval.” This quote appeared in an article in Futurism.

OPT in v.s. OPT out

The power that this gives the consumer is enormous. No longer can these companies collect our information and use it at their whim to grow their business. No longer do we have to search through pages of legalese looking for that OPT-out clause.

Consumer in Control

For consumers, there is no assumption that these companies have permission to use our data unless we expressly agree and opt-in to their privacy-infringing practices. Our actions must be affirmative.

No Coercion

These companies can’t bribe us into giving up our data through a promotional discount, nor is there any process by which they can penalize us. We must give our explicit permission before they can use our information.

Limited Impact

As written, this law only applies to those companies who provide internet services to customers in Maine, but it is a great start.