If you’ve been on the internet before, you’ve probably seen them: the unintelligible Terms of Service, the Privacy Policies that bury their practices under thousands of lines of legal jargon, the popups informing you that you’re being tracked. And yet, not knowing what you’re agreeing to, you click Accept.
It’s not just you. Even American Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said he doesn’t read the privacy policies on all the websites he visits— even though those terms have held up as legally binding in court.
On January 1st, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect. The law gives California residents the right to learn what data companies collect about them. It also lets Californians ask companies to delete their data and not to sell it. Many companies intend to honor CCPA for all consumers, not just those residing in California.
Before it went into effect, companies weren't legally required to tell you what data they'd collected about you, and you had little say over what they did with your personal data. Now, if you live in California, you'll be able to ask them to delete your data and request that they stop selling it.
However, there are many ways that companies may be able to get around CCPA. One common rebuttal is that companies may not technically sell your data; they sell the insights they can derive from your data. Another loophole is around the definitions of ‘personal data’ and what constitutes as ‘personally identifiable information.‘
Many privacy advocates have suggested we need a strong national data regulation policy. Several bills have been drafted but not yet enacted. Current calls to regulate Big Tech include worries about the way companies handle consumer data. A 2020 presidential candidate has even suggested that consumers deserve payment for their data, and that tech companies should write consumers a monthly check. However, these suggestions are far from becoming policy, and until the law catches up with current practices in the industry of surveillance capitalism, there’s only one solution to stay completely safe:
Be smart about who you choose to give your data to.
We Sell Your Data is a project by Bay Area artist Sarah Dapul-Weberman. And no, we don’t actually sell your data.