For as many privacy advancements are occurring in the crypto industry, there is also a growing understanding that true, substantial consumer privacy cannot rely entirely on increased access to crypto tools. There must also be federal action to pre-empt and criminalize the worst privacy breaches, and a maturing crypto industry should support those efforts — even if it means anarchists siding with the state.
The United States, by any measure, has fallen behind when it comes to consumer privacy regulations. This gap has created an environment where Big Tech is able to monitor and monetize your personal and sensitive data for profit. The ad tech industry is a juggernaut, and it’s made the internet a worse place. This is one of the reasons why we need crypto to cut out the middleman.
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The US Privacy and Data Protection Act (ADPPA), a privacy-enhancing bill that is currently snaking through the US legislative system, would place strict limits on the type of data companies can collect about you by line. It would be, if passed, the most significant internet law introduced in decades and would strongly strengthen civil rights.
“There are a number of minor issues that we believe can still be changed in the bill, but basically it would create strong privacy protections for all Americans and block some of the privacy-collecting practices. most harmful data with its stringent data minimization requirements (especially for sensitive data categories),” Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said in an email.
The bill was introduced in June and has since been significantly revised. It is now hailed by a number of privacy experts and is likely to receive rare bipartisan support (the kind of cross-aisle deal typically reserved for passing military budgets). But the next US election cycle could derail those efforts, Butler said.
Last week, EPIC was one of 50 public interest, consumer and civil rights groups that wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) urging Congress to pass the bill. No crypto business or project has been signed, either out of ignorance or disinterest. It’s unfortunate. Crypto has a chance to show that it can contribute to the legislative process while finding another way to strengthen digital rights.
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The ADPPA would prohibit the use of sensitive data (such as precise geolocation, biometric and health information) for targeted advertising. It would also prevent companies like Google, Facebook, and Coinbase (COIN) from tracking your web behavior over time and across third-party sites. It imposes strong restrictions on collecting data and “transferring” it to third parties without your consent.
“This bill would drive a stake through the shady practices of data brokers,” Butler said.
Unlike other privacy laws, ADPPA focuses on something called “data minimization” to simply reduce the amount of information companies can mine. It makes privacy the default setting. Companies would only be allowed to collect and use data for 17 essential reasons, such as authentication and fraud management.
This contrasts with other privacy-focused regulations, like the European Union’s GDPR, which are “consent-based,” as Wired magazine put it. This leads to “an endless stream of annoying privacy pop-ups that most people click ‘yes’ because it’s easier than bothering to disable cookies”.
Crypto’s approach to privacy has primarily focused on creating tools or methods to protect your transaction history. The industry has contributed significantly to privacy and cryptography research, and found some of the first consumer uses of advanced algorithms such as zk-SNARK proofs.
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This code-driven approach can be symbiotic with legislative efforts, or it could be crippled by them. Earlier this month, for example, the US Treasury Department took the unprecedented step of sanctioning blockchain anonymizer Tornado Cash. The code is still running, but consumer access in the United States is already prohibited, due to money laundering concerns.
“We have supported the development of privacy-enhancing technologies, including in the area of digital currency, for decades, and we are encouraged to see new tools and systems deployed in the Web3 world,” Butler said. “However, we believe that the most important thing right now is to increase the level of privacy protection for all internet users.”
“That’s why we believe it’s critical that Congress establish strong baseline privacy requirements that will push the broader use of these privacy-enhancing technologies and put accountability back on data collectors and processors of data.” ‘use more privacy protection systems,’ he added. .
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.