US senators draft Bill to force tech companies to disclose the user data they collect and how its monetized

Two US senators have proposed on Monday a bill in Congress to force tech companies to disclose what data they collect about their users and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit.

Named the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, the bill was proposed by Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

The bill’s targets are all tech companies with over 100 million monthly active users that collect data about their users.

Per the bill’s text, tech giants will have to inform both end users and US regulators about the precise information they are collecting about users, and if and how they’re monetizing it for their own profit.

In addition, the companies will also have to “regularly” inform users about how much their data is worth.

On top of this, according to Sen. Warner and Sen. Hawley, the DASHBOARD Act will:

  • Require commercial data operators to file an annual report on the aggregate value of user data they’ve collected, as well as contracts with third parties involving data collection.
  • Require commercial data operators to allow users to delete all, or individual fields, of data collected – and disclose to users all the ways in which their data is being used. including any uses not directly related to the online service for which the data was originally collected.
  • Empower the SEC to develop methodologies for calculating data value, while encouraging the agency to facilitate flexibility to enable businesses to adopt methodologies that reflect the different uses, sectors, and business models.

“For years, social media companies have told consumers that their products are free to the user. But that’s not true – you are paying with your data instead of your wallet,” said Sen. Warner.

“But the overall lack of transparency and disclosure in this market have made it impossible for users to know what they’re giving up, who else their data is being shared with, or what it’s worth to the platform,” Sen. Warner added.

“Even worse, tech companies do their best to hide how much consumer data is worth and to whom it is sold. This bipartisan legislation gives consumers control of their data and will show them how much these ‘free’ services actually cost,” said en. Hawley.

The DASHBOARD Act’s full text is available here.

In a similar effort, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a plan to charge tech companies for using Californians’ personal data.

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