We Need A Law To Let People Correct The Data Companies Hold On Them?

from the companies-would-prefer-to-keep-incorrect-info? dept

Perhaps we spoke to soon a week ago, when we noted that the government seemed unlikely to move on any federal level data privacy bill. To many, that was a good thing, because any federal bill would likely preempt much stronger state laws on data privacy — mainly California’s that forced the disclosures earlier this year that made the federal government recognize there was a real problem. However, the Senate has moved forward on one such bill. Again, this bill would preempt state laws — and also wouldn’t require as much disclosure as the California law. Companies could decide to just tell the Secret Service if they felt there was no real risk — but the companies themselves often aren’t in the best place to make that call. While there are a number of these floating around, and it’s still not anywhere near becoming a law, it’s worth noting that this bill includes the unusual clause that would: “require data brokers to allow U.S. residents to correct their personal data.” How ridiculous is it that we need a law for that? We know of all the reports talking about how much of this data that data collectors have is totally wrong (often in damaging ways), but it’s quite a statement showing how these companies work. They need a law to tell them to let people correct their data? Shouldn’t that be what they want to do already in order to make sure the data is correct?

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Comments on “We Need A Law To Let People Correct The Data Companies Hold On Them?”

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Michael Clark (user link) says:

Yes, and we need a law to let us see and correct o

The current system is badly broken. We can now see our credit reports once per year for free. Great, I can get them to remove the bad information on my report AGAIN, so that next year I can tell them to do it AGAIN. If I could access my report more often, I could increase their costs so they would get it right and not continue to merge the records of some other “Michael Clark” with mine. And if I could penalize them (I get the money, not the government) for my finding of incorrect information on my records, even better.
Maybe if we find incorrect data on our credit report, we should get that credit report free, so we’d still have our one per year free until they get it right.

eskayp says:

Incorrect personal data

One can assume that firms which collect, compile, and sell personal data are skeptical about letting people alter that data, whether accurate or not.
They are like muck-rakers, sucking up volumes of unflattering trivia about us that we probably don’t want disclosed.
From their perspective, dirt brings the best price.
Any attempt to scrub off the mud thay have smeared on the unsuspecting victim will be resisted.
To admit error would reduce the value of their product — not likely.
Sadly most of us who learn a bit of dirt about someone else tend to assume the worst.
We too view the accused’s denials with skepticism.
Human nature favors the dark side of the Force.

blah says:

another idea

These corporations should be forced to remove ALL of our data (and provide us with the evidence) if we request.
Even better, NO corporation can hold ANY data on a private citizen unless that person has given their explicit permission.

Isn’t that how it is in England? I wish it was like that here. I don’t want Choicepoint having *any* data about me at *all* for any reason.
I’d also revoke the right for any credit reporting agency to have one bit of data about me. They have already proven that they cannot keep it accurate.

eskayp says:

Re: another idea

Dear blah:
Don’t know if we want to do anything based on what some other nation / culture does, but:
I think you’re headed in the right direction.
How about FULL DISCLOSURE, to the SUBJECT of the data,
EXCEPTIONS for Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Regulatory, or other SPECIFIC NON-COMMERCIAL entities.
Private investigators, bankers, pollsters, and a few other cases present somewhat of a conundrum.
Any person having financial interest in any commercial data gathering operation would be ineligible for service on any data arbitration board.
…It ain’t much, probably not enough, but it’s a start.
MIKE: History is littered with ‘shoulds’.
Laws can reduce, but not eliminate problems like this.
Fines? …ineffective.
Felony convictions? …now the perps are paying attention.
Hey, jail time was the only thing that got the Enron perps’ attention.

El Toro says:


No, because the crafting of such a law would validate the legality of data collection in the first place.

Data collection is not legal, it is theft on a mass scale, and should be prosecuted as such. Society has been duped into believing that it is already legal and there is nothing you can do about it, when clearly that is not the truth. There is no law allowing a company carte-blanche authority to compile a dossier on you. Of course there is no law preventing the collection of it either, but establishing a precedent of allowance, even with privacy safeguards, establishes that precedent and gives the green go-ahead light to data collectors to continue on with their business.

Instead, we need to establish a precedent of illegality to put a stop to the practice. Supporting legislation validating the practice only gives credence to it.

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