Imagine not being able to lock the doors of your own house. People could just walk in, invade your privacy, take what they want, and there’s little to nothing that you can do to stop them. Scary, right?
That is exactly the state of data privacy. Currently in Washington you can’t lock the doors to your data. There are no regulations to protect your privacy.
This year there are several legislative bills offering different solutions to this problem, but only one of them, the People’s Privacy Act (HB 1433), allows you to lock the door to your data. It requires opt-in consent, which means that companies have to ask you before they take and use your information. The other proposed bills require you to ask companies to stop.
Protecting privacy isn’t easy. Even for someone who has the time and the knowledge to read terms of service and privacy policies I sometimes cannot figure out how to protect my data. Seniors may have trouble wading through the fine print. Those who do not read English at a high proficiency may have difficulty understanding. These privacy policies often mean companies are actively erecting barriers that hinder us from closing the door.
I know how hard it can be to stand up against the “big guys” to protect your rights. Kitsap cities are small compared to the Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond homes of big tech and big money, but our values are worth defending. The money of giant companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google shouldn’t trump our privacy. We shouldn’t have to unlock our doors hand over control over the keys to use online services that are essential to daily life. Common sense will tell you that system is backwards — and dangerous.
You wouldn’t accept a law that allows strangers in your house until you told them to leave. Why should we accept the same when it comes to data privacy?
Our legislators should stand up for privacy and put us in control of our data. Bills like the People’s Privacy Act do just that and deserve the support of our representatives in Olympia.
Carolyn Zimmers, Poulsbo
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Support legislation that enacts data privacy