Vargas Testifies in Favor of His Online Privacy Bill that Would Limit Data Collection

Rep. Andy X. Vargas testified before the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity. (Courtesy photograph.)

Rep. Andy X. Vargas last week testified in support of his privacy bill that would limit collection of consumer data online.

Vargas testified before the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity in support of his bill, An Act to establish the Massachusetts data privacy protection act.

“Our online activity is under constant surveillance. Not only is our personal information collected and stored without our consent, it is sold as a commodity without regard for the consequences this may have for the individual. This is our personal information, including but not limited to our age, gender, race and location. Without a clear set of regulations around data privacy, there is little incentive for companies to change their practices,” he said.

The bill establishes criteria by which companies can collect, use or transfer data and prohibits deceptive advertising of products or services; creates stricter protections on biometric, geolocation and health data and prohibits its use for advertising and transfer to a third party without consent; prohibits advertising to minors under the age of 17; allows individuals the right to access, correct, and delete data about themselves except for law enforcement cases; provides safeguards to prevent data collection practices that discriminate against protected classes; and limits companies’ abilities to electronically monitor employees.

The bill is supported by the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union and is inspired by the federal American Data Privacy Protection Act currently before Congress. According to Vargas, his proposal would make Massachusetts laws the strongest in the nation for protection of consumer’s privacy online and will bring Massachusetts laws into the 21st century.

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