Brendan Flores, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
If you’re worried about internet companies collecting, selling, and mishandling your personal information, last year was a
terrible year. Almost every week brought news of a massive privacy breach involving sale or theft of personal information from millions of unsuspecting internet users.
Will 2019 be any better? It may be too soon to tell but there are hopeful signs.
First, Congress appears to be moving toward legislation to help us protect our online privacy. Several signs point to bipartisan support for a new law. A powerful Senate Republican is calling for a new federal law “by the end of 2019.” A powerful House Democrat recently put “comprehensive legislation” on privacy on his party’s agenda. We should applaud this action and, more importantly, be watchful to ensure that these promises become reality.
For everyone who uses the internet, particularly Filipino Americans and other Asian Americans, the stakes could not be any higher. Ninety-three percent of Asian American households have access to the internet, more than any other racial or ethnic group in the country. Asian Americans also have the highest connected-device ownership, with a dependence on smart watches and streaming media players.
The rise in internet use – as well as the proliferation of these web-connected consumer devices and electronics – has more of us online and sharing highly sensitive personal data. Just as our reliance on the internet has never been more pervasive, the need to protect users’ personal information and private data has also never been greater.
That is why it is time for Congress to pass comprehensive privacy legislation that protects internet users from having our personal data improperly collected, sold, used, or exposed. With our data and information collection being so widespread, there should be one definitive set of rules and regulations that holds all internet companies, websites, devices, applications, advertisers, social media platforms, and search engines accountable.
Congress should codify a set of strong comprehensive consumer privacy protections to apply across the internet. That way all companies that collect, share, or use our personal data in any way are held to the same set of standards and rules. This is the only way to ensure equal protection for the Filipino American community and all internet users.
Brendan Flores is the National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). NaFFAA is a member of the AAPI Tech and Telecomm Table.