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Learning how consumer privacy works can keep you informed about issues like online tracking and speech rights. After all, the consumer privacy discussion focuses on the rights of individuals to control their personal data and protect it from being collected, used, and shared without permission. Online communication allows powerful companies and government agencies to collect more data than ever before. So, stick around to learn what is consumer privacy so you can stay safe online.
For more information, read about service providers under the CCPA and what Title 2 net neutrality is.
Consumer and privacy concerns often overlap as more commerce moves to the internet. Private-sector companies, financial services, and government agencies collect countless electronic records from consumer activity, so motoring their data privacy practices is critical. Consumer privacy issues typically deal with how large entities use customer records and their data security practices.
Consumer data is made of identifying information, behavioral data, and general demographics. Companies use this data to refine sales pages, target ads, and other commercial purposes. Some companies with access to consumer data sell it to other agencies for research and marketing.
Companies collect customer information like email addresses, credit cards, IP addresses, phone numbers, and browsing history. Entities gain access to customer data through multiple avenues like tracking cookies, app location permissions, and submission forms.
American consumers do not have a unified Federal privacy law. Instead, the US has a Federal privacy framework made from multiple bills and regulations. For example, federal-level laws cover medical privacy, student privacy, and how insurance and financial institutions can use customer information.
The EU and UK have a General Data Protection Regulation Act (GDPR). These strong consumer privacy laws outline how companies and government agencies treat consumer data. Companies must ask permission to store consumer data for specific purposes. Additionally, companies must invest in strong privacy measures and hire a data protection officer (DPO) to oversee GDPR compliance.
You do not have a legal expectation of privacy on a public social media account, so be thoughtful about what you share.
The California Consumer Protection Act is a state-level consumer privacy regulation that sets new legal requirements for how companies collect and use customer data. Citizens have the right to know how a company collects data, what the data is used for, and how the data is shared. CCPA only applies to California citizens, but many companies extended CCPA-compliant policies nationwide.
STAT: A 2019 Pew Research Center survey showed that 79% of Americans are very or somewhat concerned about how companies use their personal data. (source)