“To exist in 2022 is to be surveilled, tracked, tagged and monitored — most often for profit.” It might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s far from it. When nearly every American is carrying a tracking device, audio and video recorder, and all their personal data in their pocket, nobody is truly private.
The cracks in our digital privacy are getting wider, allowing an almost unfiltered ocean of our most sensitive data to flow into anyone’s hands. As Alex Kingsbury writes in The New York Times:
“Consider just last week: Apple released a surprise software update for its iPhones, iPads and Macs meant to remove vulnerabilities the company says may have been exploited by sophisticated hackers. The week before that, a former Google engineer discovered that Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, was using a piece of code to track users of the Facebook and Instagram apps across the internet without their knowledge. In Greece the prime minister and his government have been consumed by a widening scandal in which they are accused of spying on the smartphones of an opposition leader and a journalist.
And this month Amazon announced that it was creating a show called “Ring Nation” — a sort of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ made up of footage recorded by the company’s Ring doorbells.”
Just one of these examples should be cause for concern to any American, but the problem is simply too big for individuals to handle. As Kingsbury states, “there are simply too many tech companies, government entities, data brokers, internet service providers and others tracking everything we do.” Congress must take bold action to protect Americans from predatory data collectors and misusers.
Legislation like the Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act is a step in the right direction. It would prohibit law enforcement and other government agencies from purchasing bulk data from data brokers. In the wake of renewed state battles over the future of abortion rights, the My Body, My Data Act would tighten rules around personal health information. Absent these reforms, “we’re about to find out what happens when that privacy has all but vanished.” PPSA will continue to monitor these issues and fight for privacy in Congress and the courts.