New privacy act wants tech firms to disclose what user data is worth

26 Jun 2019

Image: © oatawa/

A new bipartisan privacy bill put forward by US senators proposes forcing ‘Big Tech’ to disclose how much user data is actually worth.

Senators in the US have put forward a bipartisan privacy bill called the DASHBOARD Act, which would force major tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon to disclose the value of user data.

DASHBOARD, which stands for ‘Designing Accounting Safeguards to Held Broader Oversight and Regulations on Data’, was proposed by US Democratic senator Mark Warner and US Republican party senator Josh Hawley on 24 June.

“Customers have consistently been told that these services are ‘free’. Yet the current lack of transparency impedes consumers’ ability to fully understand the terms of the exchange and decide for themselves whether they are getting a fair deal from the platform companies that monetise their data,” an abridged version of the bill says.

It would require commercial data operators, defined as those with in excess of 100m monthly users, to disclose the types of data they collect and regularly update users on the assessed value of their data. Operators would be required to file an annual report on the aggregate value of user data they have collected and contracts with third parties involving data collections. It would also provide users with the ability to delete data that operators have collected from them.

Hawley and Warner have previously proposed an act related to data collection. Called the Do Not Track Act, it would require website owners to provide an opt-out option for all online tracking and would prevent these websites from collecting any data beyond what is necessary to deliver services.

Warner, who is the vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, has previously discussed Europe’s GDPR and how it relates to plans for US data collection legislation. A policy white paper released by Axios has indicated that some of the many privacy proposals the senator has in the pipeline mimic elements of EU data protection.

“The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy and our politics,” the paper says.

“The hope is that the ideas enclosed here stir the pot and spark a wider discussion among policymakers, stakeholders and civil society groups on the appropriate trajectory of technology policy in the coming years.”

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic