Opinion | Can Europe Lead on Privacy? - The New York Times
The European rules, for instance, require companies to provide a plain-language description of their information-gathering practices, including how the data is used, as well as have users explicitly “opt in” to having their information collected. The rules also give consumers the right to see what information about them is being held, and the ability to have that information erased.
Why don’t we have similar protections in the United States? We almost did. In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission imposed similar requirements on the companies that provide internet service, forcing them to offer an explicit “opt in” for having personal data collected, and to protect the information that was collected.
This didn’t last. Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T and companies that use their connections, like Facebook and Google, lobbied members of Congress. Congress passed a law this year, signed by President Trump, that not only repealed the protections but also prohibited the F.C.C. from ever again imposing such safeguards. The same coalition of corporate interests succeeded in discouraging California from passing a state privacy law similar to the 2016 F.C.C. requirements.
The New World must learn from the Old World. The internet economy has made our personal data a corporate commodity. The United States government must return control of that information to its owners.
Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017, is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.