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Can the FTC restore our trust in technology? - Stacey on IoT

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This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter on Friday, August 12th.

After reading this week’s Tesla story that inspired Kevin’s story above, I tried to talk to my kid about our upcoming trip to visit some colleges. and I read a book called “The Price You Pay for College”. This is a book detailing the astonishing use of data collection as colleges seek information to help determine how much families are willing to pay for college. .

An overview of the practice can be found here, but in a nutshell, universities are incorporating financial information and even data from email pixel trackers to determine how interested children are in attending school and school finances. We are measuring whether there is Families, price the experience accordingly. After sharing this with my kids, they waited hours to open an email from the university we were planning to visit and “gamed the system” by trying to mislead pricing signals. I tried

— A 2019 Pew study showed how powerless people feel about the amount of data collected about them. Image courtesy of Pew Research.

It made me so sad to hear them explain their strategy. First, I don’t know if it really helps. And second, it is the only source of data about my child available to college admissions staff and their legions of consultants. life is tracked by a sophisticated and almost invisible set of tools.

And it’s a life where the greatest moments are increasingly happening online or barricaded by forms and apps designed to track interests and development. An online form was provided to describe and collect information. I have read your privacy policy and have noticed that the companies that collect your data have the ability to aggregate that data and sell it to third parties, including companies that want to serve you ads. I refused.

These are not isolated events. I agree to provide some of my FitBit data to third parties. My location data is available from Google and my cell phone provider, and tracking pixels track my emails and web searches. Connected devices periodically remind family members. My husband gets a notification when I bake cookies in the connected oven. When I’m driving around town in my Tesla, he can see my whereabouts on the app.

I showed my husband and kids how the app could tell them anything they asked Alexa. Few people realize that Alexa shares with the app owner. Here are her two problems. For one, any connected device can see data about the people who live in or use the device in the home. Another problem is that much of that data is also sent to the device manufacturer, from where it can be shared with others, such as law enforcement, advertisers, and data his brokers.

We address the first issue by regularly sharing our sensors and their capabilities with everyone who uses our products and obtaining their consent. The second problem requires a regulatory solution. And it looks like we might get it.

This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would begin an open process to develop rules to crack down on “harmful commercial surveillance and lax data security.” On Thursday, the agency released a proposed rulemaking soliciting public comment on the harm caused by what the agency calls commercial surveillance and whether new rules are needed to protect people’s privacy and information. It said it would issue prior notice of

I think we desperately need new rules. While navigating social media and apps wanting to know more about me and trying to figure out who I am, trying to put my child into a demographic box, my child It hurts just to see how constrained you are. They realized that such oversight also impacted the cost of people’s goods through discretionary pricing, and whether it was college tickets or concert tickets, I found them disillusioned. I see you there.

Some of the solutions to this problem will come from private companies. See how Apple disabled email tracking pixels. We also expect more messaging platforms to adopt end-to-end encryption (a fact that will put governments under endless stress).

However, the government has a big role to play. We need rules that recognize the scope of the challenge and the existing data market. Data brokers are huge invisible forces that collect highly personal information and sell it to the highest bidders. These buyers may just be annoying by serving up incredibly targeted ads, or deporting citizens or prosecuting someone for crimes that can be incredibly harmful. There is also

Regulations that block access to such data would be hostile to Washington and the private market. The FTC wants to hear from consumers about the actual harm created by commercial surveillance and plans to host a public forum on September 8 for additional public comment. This is your chance to voice your story or concerns. Ideally, the FTC could be allowed to make more rules, but a better solution would be to get Congress involved and the business models tech companies have pursued to the detriment of their users. It is necessary to recognize that there is

Then maybe Kevin won’t have to sacrifice privacy for convenience when deciding to buy a new car.