Facebook raises data worries
Fueled by Facebook’s failure to safeguard the data of users of its social media platform, lawmakers in Congress are looking to protect the online privacy of Americans through wide-ranging legislation that could have significant effects on the handling of health information.
The Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly (BROWSER) Act would require both Internet service providers (ISPs) and “edge service” vendors—such as Facebook—to give consumers opt-in or opt-out rights for sharing certain sensitive data, including health information, with third parties.
Introduced last year by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Communication and Technology Subcommittee, the BROWSER Act defines edge service as one provided over the Internet for which the provider requires the user to subscribe or establish an account in order to use the service—including social media.
According to Blackburn, Federal Communications Commission privacy and data security rules have unfairly focused on ISPs even though edge service providers such as Facebook collect just as much consumer data—if not more. However, the BROWSER Act would designate the Federal Trade Commission as the nation’s sole online privacy enforcer and treat ISPs and edge providers equally. A vote hasn’t been set.
“This bill creates a level and fair privacy playing field by bringing all entities that collect and sell the personal data of individuals under the same rules,” said Blackburn. “What this would do is have one regulator (FTC), one set of rules for the entire ecosystem.”