Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?
Andrew Yang, one of the candidates among the large field running to be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2020, issued a new policy proposal this week that makes the case that digital data should be treated as a property right under law.
He points to the fact that businesses, known and unknown, have access to vast amounts of personal data on Americans. These companies use the data collected to make money while not always paying close enough attention to protecting it. Reputable firms have asked Congress to create better, clearer rules on the collection and use of data.
Mr. Yang argues that the personal data of individuals should be owned by them and not a corporation. He lays out a list of seven rights he believes should be codified into law. These include the right to:
- Be informed as to what data is collected and how it will be used;
- Opt out of data collection or sharing;
- Be told if a website has data on an individual and what that is;
- Be forgotten and to have all data deleted upon request;
- Be informed if ownership of personal data changes hands;
- Be informed of data breaches in a timely manner;
- Download all data in a standardized format that can be ported to another platform.
“Consent should be informed and active,” Mr. Yang writes. “Companies are responsible for ensuring that they collect a positive opt-in from each user before collecting any data, and this opt-in should be accompanied by a clear and easy-to-understand statement about what data is being collected, and how it is going to be used. You can waive these rights and opt in to sharing your data if you wish for the companies’ benefit and your own convenience — but then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that an individual’s data is their personal property and should not be used without their consent and compensation? Would you add to, subtract from or otherwise modify any of the seven personal data rights listed by Andrew Yang?