Australia's privacy laws

Civil society counters Big Tech in Massachusetts privacy debate

Today, Access Now and a coalition of civil society organizations are correcting the record regarding the Massachusetts Information Privacy Act (MIPA) — an important state initiative to protect people’s fundamental right to privacy and to hold Big Tech accountable, which is under fire from corporate lobbyists. 

“Massachusetts can set a standard by passing one of the strongest privacy frameworks in the country, and standing up to Big Tech,” said Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Analyst at Access Now. “As usual, the industry is attempting to confuse, delay, and stop any bill that would lead to real privacy protections. Our letter provides  further evidence that industry’s arguments are hollow. Massachusetts should move full steam ahead with MIPA to help protect Massachusettsans’ privacy, and to influence a federal law.”

MIPA is a substantial state privacy bill introduced by Senator Creem and Representatives Rogers and Vargas in Massachusetts. Included in the bill are provisions such as: preventing digital discrimination based on a protected class; fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and confidentiality; user controls like access, correction, portability, and deletion of data; increased protection for biometric and location data; prohibition of activating an audio or visual sensor without consent; and robust enforcement like a private right of action. Access Now publicly supports this bill.

Industry has fought against the bill, presumably as it would limit their ability to harvest and exploit personal data. Via an open letter, civil society is again correcting certain industry claims raised at a recent hearing, and reminding the Joint Committee of several issues, including:

  • The bill applies only to large companies, thus cost of compliance is not a significant concern;
  • Privacy pledges from online companies do very little to discipline companies who violate privacy and thus are insufficient to protect people;
  • The likelihood of privacy fatigue is overstated and dramatized by industry;
  • Massachusetts can and should move forward with MIPA without having to wait for a federal privacy law, which is not a certainty; and
  • MIPA should retain a private right of action as it is the most effective form of redress.

Read the full letter.