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America, Your Privacy Settings Are All Wrong

The New York Times Editorial Board – Using an opt-in approach will help curb the excesses of Big Tech. “Despite what corporations profess, much of this personal data is used not to improve products themselves, but to make those products more attractive to advertisers. One straightforward solution is to let people opt in to data collection on apps and websites. Today, with few exceptions, loads of personal data are collected automatically by default unless consumers take action to opt out of the practice — which, in most cases, requires dropping the service entirely. Virginia recently had the opportunity to extend firmer data protection rights to its residents. But the state’s Consumer Data Protection Act, signed into law this month, is a business-friendly package, supported by Amazon and Microsoft, that puts the onus on consumers to opt out of most data collection, except for the most sensitive personal details. Washington State lawmakers are advancing similar legislation. Corporations say opt-out provisions put control into the hands of consumers. But users are no more likely to switch off data collection than they are to read through the onerous and lengthy terms and conditions policies that litter the web. Many companies bury their data collection controls deep within their websites. Even if consumers can find them, their choices most likely don’t apply to a company’s subsidiaries or affiliates. Because of how personal data is shared, “there could be thousands or hundreds of thousands of companies that have data on you,” said Stacey Gray, senior counsel at the nonprofit Future of Privacy Forum. “Users, however, typically do not change their default settings even when it means their data is being collected.”..

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