Why US data privacy laws go against what the people want



In 2021, an investigation revealed that home loan algorithms systematically discriminate against qualified minority applicants. Unfortunately, stories of dubious profit-driven data uses like this are all too common.

Meanwhile, laws often impede nonprofits and public health agencies from using similar data – like credit and financial data – to alleviate inequities or improve people’s well-being.

Legal data limitations have even been a factor in the fight against the coronavirus. Health and behavioral data is critical to combating the COVID-19 pandemic, but public health agencies have often been unable to access important information – including government and consumer data – to fight the virus.

We are faculty at the school of publichealth and the law school at Texas A&M University with expertise in health information regulation, data science and online contracts.

U.S. data protection laws often widely permit using data for profit but are more restrictive of socially beneficial uses. We wanted to ask a simple question: Do U.S. privacy laws actually protect data in the ways that Americans want? Using a national survey, we found that the public’s preferences are inconsistent with the restrictions imposed by U.S. privacy laws.

What does the U.S. public think about data privacy?
When we talk about data, we generally mean the information that is collected when people receive services or buy things in a digital society, including information on health, education and consumer history. At their core, data protection laws are concerned with three questions: What data should be protected? Who can use the data? And what can someone do with the data?

Our team conducted a survey of over 500 U.S. residents to find out what uses people are most comfortable with. We presented participants with pairs of 72 different data use scenarios. For example, are you more comfortable with a business using education data for marketing or a government using economic activity data for research? In each case, we asked participants which scenario they were more comfortable with. We then compared those preferences with U.S. law – particularly in terms of types of data being used, who is using that data, and how.   ReadMore

 

Source : thenextweb

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