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Examining safeguards for consumer data privacy

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At 10:00 AM on Wednesday, September 26, top technology and communications executives will testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the current state of consumer data privacy and what can be done to better protect data from hackers.

AEI tech policy experts are available to comment on Wednesday’s hearing, as well as on the broader outlook for consumer data privacy.

Visiting Fellow Bret Swanson:

“Where [the data security company] VGS is a centralized solution — a middle man acting as a kind of bank for data — another [new] wave of privacy and security innovation is decentralized, in the form of crypto assets and blockchains. Although blockchains have some drawbacks and the technology is still in its early days, decentralization theoretically offers a clear advantage [because]…decentralized peer-to-peer systems spread the useful information far and wide and dramatically increase the cost of hacking any particular node.

Visiting Scholar Mark Jamison:

“Amid this environment, some social media companies are [questioning]…should our systems be more open or closed? … The more open a system, the easier it is for outside app developers to access another platform’s data. …Having a more closed system, on the other hand, means less access for third parties. It has the benefit of better safeguarding people’s information by ensuring it remains only with the platform they use. This is one of the key public policy arguments for closed systems: they put more control in the hands of users, so their information isn’t shared in ways they didn’t approve or realize. A sense of privacy takes precedent.

Visiting Fellow Shane Tews:

“Transparency should be a priority for all parts of the technology ecosystem… Most people understand that the economics of “free” means an exchange of data occurs at some level. Transparent privacy policies that let consumers know about the exchange that is occurring are the best way to keep consumers informed and the free flow of information available.

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