Utah Just Became A Leader In Digital Privacy

from Wired

With so much of our lives lived online, people have often assumed that the pictures, financial documents, and other sensitive information we store on our password-protected phones and computers are kept private. But every day, it seems there’s a new data breach, or another story about our information being passed around in ways we couldn’t imagine.

As a result, there’s been an emerging public distrust in the platforms that hold so much of this information, and increased interest by federal and state legislators on how to protect the public’s privacy. So far, government focus has primarily been on protecting consumer information from intrusive collection by private companies. California passed sweeping legislation in 2018 to protect consumer privacy. That same year, the Vermont legislature passed a law to regulate data brokers. Both Washington and Massachusetts are considering consumer data privacy bills.

While these measures are certainly important, protecting private information from law enforcement invasion—not just private industry—also merits urgency. And with pressure from Libertas Institute and the ACLU of Utah, the Utah Legislature is taking steps toward that very thing. On March 12, Utah legislators voted unanimously to pass landmark legislation in support of a new privacy law that will protect private electronic data stored with third parties like Google or Facebook from free-range government access. The bill stipulates that law enforcement will be required to obtain a warrant before accessing “certain electronic information or data.” (Unlike consumer privacy laws, the bill does not give individuals the ability to see the information that companies collect on them, and doesn’t regulate how personal data is used internally.) The bipartisan bill is expected to go to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk for final approval next week. If he signs the bill, Utah will be the first state in the nation to lawfully protect the electronic information that individuals entrust to third parties.

More here.

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5 Responses to Utah Just Became A Leader In Digital Privacy

  1. Lillie Moran April 23, 2019 at 2:43 pm #

    From my point of view, digital privacy was never one of my top concerns, and the state of Utah definitely wasn’t on my radar for states with dramatic changes in legislation. The digital privacy debate has caused a major rift in our society, where consumers are now taking their privacy into their own hands, refusing to use third party sites, such as Google and Facebook. In response, companies are trying to figure out how to gain the consumer’s trust back, and now legislatures are looking out for the average consumer. This article’s focus, the new law privacy law in Utah, highlights how states are now taking this debate to a new level. It seems obvious to some, but our information that we put on the internet of things isn’t being used in the way we think it is. Our private information is being shared by large companies for their own benefit, and there has been no precautions set in our to protect our information. Although states like California and Massachusetts have passed laws protecting the consumer, none have dramatically changed the fact that companies till continue to process our information for profit. The Fourth Amendment of the United States prohibits unreasonable search and seizure of “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” but it has never expanded to digital information until now. This Utah law now forces law enforcement to obtain a warrant before being granting access to “certain electronic information or data.”

    Law enforcement has been using social media platforms and digital information on individuals in order to help solve cases, but now, individuals are further protected. But is this entirely a good thing? As a citizen of the United States, it is. Now, your private, digital information is now considered property where in past instances, it was not. This is now putting power in the hands of the consumer, rather than large companies, or our own federal government. And Utah will not be the only one to adopt this law. At this rate of the digital privacy debate, many more states will soon adopt this same law in order to appeal to the individual citizen. I think this article is the most important article on this blog for the reason that it is now putting power in the hands of students. We as college students, use more data and social media platforms than any other age group. Now, we are being granted rights, not only in the court of law, but also in our everyday lives.

  2. Rayzan Alarashi April 25, 2019 at 11:40 am #

    The concerns of digital privacy shift dramatically between people in our society with some wanting legislation to protect their private information online, meanwhile others don’t bother to care at all. Personally, I was the type of person who never payed attention to digital privacy, but after taking business law and hearing professor Shannon speak on how much of our information and lives are tracked by organizations, I’ve become much more self-aware of what I do online and the information I share with third parties such as Google or Facebook. The legislation recently passed by Utah is one that, in my opinion, should set a precedent for all states to follow. All citizens of the U.S. should have the right to keep their online information private from free range government practice. Before reading this article, I wasn’t even aware that government entities could access my information without any permission such as my location, financial documents, or any information that is stored on third party networks. I feel as if we’ve already given government too much power in being able to access anyone’s information, and the excuse of doing so to protect us from and criminal or terror threat is not a valid justification. It seems like criminal and terrorist activities have only increased in the past several years which makes me question whether that is the real reason the government wants access to so much of our information. Requiring a warrant from government officials to access one’s personal data is a good step in the right direction for protecting our privacy, but it should not simply stop there. As we all know, many of our fundamental laws are outdated for our society, but one doctrine that needs immediate modification is the “third party doctrine”. If you were to ask any individual that used the internet, they would tell you that just because they share private data with third parties, by no means are they expecting that information to be made public. It’s necessary that we advocate for change in regard to our online privacy if we truly want change fast. Now that technology plays a big factor in nearly all of our lives, its important that we create specific laws to address online privacy.

  3. Domenico Cirielli April 26, 2019 at 10:12 am #

    Digital privacy, or the lack thereof, is a topic of much relevance and heightened importance in an age where many processes, especially the functioning of the economy, are becoming increasingly digitized. This article discusses digital privacy as it pertains to law enforcement being able to access an individuals’ information from a third-party platform. The spotlight falls on the state of Utah, which recently passed a privacy law that requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to access information from third party data collectors, except in instances of emergency and when the data being obtained is concerned with physical violence, sexual abuse, or dishonesty. What is so controversial about this is that it on the federal level, and in every other state besides Utah, third party data can be accessed with little to no consequence or accountability.

    However, I do not really believe this piece of legislation is necessary, especially when one considers the “third party doctrine.” As described by the Supreme Court, this doctrine essentially explains that individuals should have no reasonable expectation of privacy when they knowingly share their data with third party services. I really do think this whole heightened awareness of digital privacy is becoming more and more exaggerated as time elapses. While this is a very controversial statement, I do find it very necessary to look at the context. For example, I do not necessarily think that search engines that sell consumer search history to third parties are necessarily doing so in a malignant way. Those search engines are looking to better the experience for the consumer, helping them get to their desired end point quicker and more efficiently. However, in instances where companies sell this information with malignant intent, the situation is different. For example, let’s say a money savings application, linked to your bank account, released account activity and profile information to a third party. Not only is that a clear violation of privacy, that could lead to significant consequences – there is no way sharing that information is beneficial to the user.

    Personally, I do not mind that specific services and apps are able to track what I’m doing and where I’m going as long as they are helping create both an easier and a better life for myself. While I understand that some data that is sold to third parties is done so malignantly, that should not make the law more strict in instances where third parties are looking to better the consumer experience through the selling of data.

  4. Kyle Stephens April 26, 2019 at 12:43 pm #

    Digital privacy is a topic that we have covered seemingly countless times over the course of this semester. Digital privacy should be everyone in the worlds top priority. With society becoming increasingly more technological and web-based, it is important that we find a good way to protect ourselves online. With all the sensitive information we have online, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, etc., we honestly should be a little bit fearful every time we get online for something as routine as googling something. By starting to add legislature protecting us from online data leaks, I believe the U.S. is taking the right steps to help solve what could be a huge problem in the future. The government passed a bill stating that police officers need to obtain a warrant before accessing your location services on your phone from a third party service provider. However, this still leaves us vulnerable to searches through our texts, emails, banking information etc. So, one state decided to change that and make it so a police officer needs a warrant before being able to search any of our online data. This bill isn’t perfect though and there are a few exceptions where the police can still search all of your things without a warrant. This being in case of a medical emergency or some other special circumstance. Hopefully, this will encourage other states to do the same or maybe even convince the government to make it a law in all states. The reason for needing these laws is so the court has a better guide to follow when making rulings involving digital privacy. Right now, courts have to use other rulings and laws to try and make loose fitting rulings. This is ineffective and unfair because with the right legislature these rulings would be completely different and would also be easier for the courts to decide the rulings. When considering the future, I think it is unlikely we move away from technology, so the government needs to start taking that into account and create laws that can better govern what our society is becoming.

  5. Eric Greene June 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

    Privacy has and will always be important to people. But with technology advancing at an alarming rate, maintaining privacy is becoming harder and harder. Just last year, the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network received nearly 3 million reports of fraud with a total of $1.48 billion in losses. The most frequent forms of fraud reported were imposter scams, when a fraudster pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money, debt collection, when a fraudster identifies himself to be your debt collector to receive payment, or identify theft, when a fraudster pretends to be you so they can take your assets. In all of these cases of fraud, the fraudsters use personal information to validate themselves. So keeping as much of it from the public eye has never been more important. Some information like names, addresses, relatives, and even police records can be found by anyone with just a few minutes on the computer. But these things don’t go very far for a scammer. The information that they are really looking for are things like social security number, passport number, insurance information, and login credentials. Fraudsters can and have used this kind of information to ruin people lives so it is of utmost importance to keep it secure. That’s why Utah’s new privacy legislature is such big news.

    The new landmark bill will protect private electronic data stored with third-party companies like Google and Facebook from free-range government access. If passed, Utah will be the first state to protect the information entrusted to third parties. Although the law won’t allow individuals to see the information that these companies collect on them or regulate how they can internally use the information, it is a huge step in the right direction. My main concern is keeping my private information away from people that will use it against me. So the fact that third parties can internally use my information doesn’t bother me. To the best of my knowledge, the information that they collect is used to gather statistics about things like demographics, spending habits, driving patterns, and technical diagnostics. So if anything, the information will be used to improve their platform which would actually benefit me.

    I really hope that other states follow Utah’s lead and pass bills to protect our privacy. Utah was able to pass the bill fairly easily so I see no reason why every state shouldn’t be starting to draft their own privacy bills. This would not only promote the importance of online privacy but it would be the first step in battling fraudsters.

    Works Cited
    “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2018.” Federal Trade Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Feb. 2019, http://www.ftc.gov/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-2018.

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