EFF supports Illinois legislation (SB 1502 and HB 2774) that would empower people who visit commercial websites and online services to learn what personal information the site and service operators collected from them, and which third parties the operators shared it with. EFF has long supported such “right to know” legislation, which requires company transparency and thereby advances digital privacy.
As we explain in our support letter:
Many operators of commercial websites and online services collect from their visitors a tremendous amount of highly personal information. This can include facts about our health, finances, location, politics, religion, sexual orientation, and shopping. Many operators share this information with third parties, including advertisers and data brokers. This information has great financial value, so pressure to collect and share it will continue to grow.
This is a profound threat to our privacy. We live more and more of our lives online. The aggregation of our myriad clicks can turn our lives into open books. Our sensitive personal information, pooled into ever-larger reservoirs, can be sold to the highest bidder, stolen by criminals, and seized by government investigators.
Many people would like to protect their own privacy, by making informed choices about which websites and online services to visit. Some sites and services are more respectful of visitors’ privacy, and others are less so.
But all too often, such attempts at privacy self-help are stymied by the lack of available information about what personal information a website is collecting and sharing.
SB 1502 and HB 2774 would even the playing field. They would ensure that people can obtain the information they need to make fact-based decisions about where they want to spend their time online.
These bills would not restrict how any website or online service gathers or shares information. Operators can keep doing exactly what they are doing – they just have to be more transparent about it.
In April, the Illinois Senate passed SB 1502, and the Illinois House Committee on Cybersecurity passed HB 2774. We thank the lead legislative sponsors, Sen. Michael Hastings and Rep. Arthur Turner. We also thank the Cook County Sheriff, who initiated the bill, and the bills’ proponents, including the ACLU of Illinois, the Digital Privacy Alliance, the Illinois Attorney General, Illinois PIRG, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Read EFF’s full letter to the Illinois legislature.