Shanley commission meetings result in three bills to improve Internet transparency and privacy protection
STATE HOUSE — A special legislative commission chaired by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) to study privacy protection on the Internet has developed three bills which have been introduced by commission members.
The 11-member Rhode Island Online Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Commission was tasked with studying and making recommendations on legislation for protecting individuals from disclosures of information.
“Privacy is a fundamental right,” said Representative Shanley. “The Internet has changed our understanding of privacy, and consumers need to be better informed about what information is shared with other businesses and how that information is shared. Everyone has the right to protect their families from cyber-crimes and identity thieves.”
The first bill (2020-H 7778), the Rhode Island Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act, introduced by Representative Shanley, would require online service providers and commercial websites that collect, store and sell personally identifiable information to disclose what categories of personally identifiable information they collect and to what third parties they sell the information. The bill would not prohibit the collection or sale of personally identifiable information and does not require the retention or disclosure of personally identifiable information by online service providers or commercial websites
The second bill (2020-H 7723), the Consumer Personal Data Protection Act, introduced by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) would regulate data brokers. Data brokers would be required to annually register; to provide substantive notifications to consumers; and to adopt comprehensive data security programs.
The third bill (2020-H 7724), the Student Cloud Computing Privacy and Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), would prohibit use of student information by cloud computing service providers for specified purposes; protect student personal information; and require cloud computing service providers to establish and maintain appropriate security measures.
“I thank Representative Shanley for his hard work, leadership, and thoughtfulness as chair of the commission,” said Christina Fisher, executive director for Massachusetts and the Northeast for TechNet, a national, bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives that promotes the growth of the innovation economy. “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with him on these critical issues and look forward to our continued partnership in Rhode Island.”
Tim Wilkerson, president of the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, said, “I applaud Representative Shanley on the tremendous leadership he exhibited throughout the Commission process. I was honored to serve on the Commission and appreciate the thoughtful debate that resulted.”
Businesses are now collecting personal information and sharing and selling it in ways not contemplated or properly covered by the current law. Some websites are installing tracking tools that record when consumers visit webpages and sending personal information, such as age, gender, race, income, health concerns, religion, and recent purchases to third-party marketers and data brokers.
Those third-party data broker companies are buying, selling, and trading personal information obtained from mobile phones, financial institutions, social media sites, and other online and brick and mortar companies. Some mobile applications are sharing personal information, such as location information, unique phone identification numbers, and age, gender, and other personal details with third-party companies.
“Many consumers are wholly unaware of how much of their personal information is floating around cyberspace, being sold back and forth by various companies,” said Representative Shanley. “It’s a blatant violation of privacy and we need to make sure consumers are equipped with the tools to protect themselves.”
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