Regulating big tech companies will undoubtedly be a matter of discussion during the upcoming Democratic primary debates, but a new piece of legislation has bipartisan support.
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) are set to introduce the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data Act, or DASHBOARD Act, on Monday. Axios on HBO got the scoop on Sunday evening, when Warner was a guest on the show.
If approved and enforced, DASHBOARD would force major tech companies that profit off of user data to reveal the monetary value of said data. Crucially, it would also require these companies to let users delete that data.
“If you’re an avid Facebook user, chances are Facebook knows more about you than the U.S. government knows about you,” Warner said on Axios on HBO. “People don’t realize one, how much data is being collected; and two, they don’t realize how much that data is worth.”
The legislation would only be enforced on services with more than 100 million monthly users. They would have to reveal exactly what data they collected (think age, gender, or location) and what it was used for. Aside from that, they would be expected to reveal the value of that data every 90 days, as well as in annual reports to the SEC.
Even if someone’s personal data is only worth a few dollars per month, it could be illuminating for people to see exactly what companies have on them, and how it affects said companies’ bottom lines. Public disclosure of what data is collected and how it is used could ultimately be the most valuable aspects of DASHBOARD, if it passes.
One might also argue that it doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t sound like DASHBOARD would force companies to change their data collection practices, just be more transparent about them. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is one of the most prominent names in politics to demand stricter regulation of big tech.
Some major American tech figures like Mark Zuckerberg have at least suggested they’d be alright with federal regulation, but it remains to be seen how they will respond if a bill like DASHBOARD gains momentum.