The right to our digital info
The United States lacks a single law regulating the collection and maintenance of data from individuals. With life becoming digital, information becomes easier to steal. While industries already have implemented self-regulating standards, perhaps the U.S. could benefit from an over-arching law—similar to the
gdpr—that would regulate data protection. People should have rights to this information, and those rights should be protected.
The ideal right to privacy for U.S. citizens can be presumed by the Fourth Amendment:*
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
U.S. citizens have the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property from their government. In the digital globe, technology accelerates life, and laws are slow to make pace. Laws arise when needs arise (thank you, common law.)* The current U.S. system of privacy protection is a messy patchwork of statutes governing privacy rights in separate sectors. This odd system mostly works, but it works because they met the needs as they arose. Of most privacy regulations in the United States, few are digital. Our rights to privacy have been on the forehead of our concerns during current worries of data protection. Can U.S. citizens know exactly who holds their personal information? Even if they do, can they be assured their information is properly protected?
Currently, there is no U.S. federal regulation that covers all data. Sure, there are several acts that cover certain sectors (like hipaa glba coppa gdpr
hipaa* does for health, the
glba* does for banking,
coppa* does for children, etc.), but nothing like what Europe has in the
gdpr.* An individual’s right to their digital identity is recognized by the
gdpr, as well as California’s Consumer Privacy Act (“
ccpa.”)* Leave it to the states to figure things out beforehand, even if such an act was “quickly negotiated.”* Other countries* are weaving similar regulations to clothe their citizens with the same rights.
The right to a digital I.D.
Sullivan* advocates for the right to identity in the U.S., thereby protecting individuals with an enforceable, all-encompassing regulation. Digital identities are being recognized not just by industries but by governments as well. Sullivan* explains how many government transactions are performed solely over the internet with little human interaction, if at all. People hope these systems store their digital information in secure frameworks, and store only the information required for processing. Hand signatures and photographs are becoming replaced by a digital signature—mere initials in some instances, full names in others. Wet ink is not required. Governments, both state and federal, are seeing this digital signature as a preferred form of identity, claiming the digital signature reduces costs, increases efficiency, and reduces fraud.* Because governments require online transactions, they ought to protect the information in those transactions. The right to a digital identity is about the individual’s right to be recognized and to transact as an individually identifiable person within the digital universe. ❖
- The California Consumer Privacy Act, California Civil Code § 1798.100 (2018).*
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506 (1998).*
- General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (2016).*
- The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, 15 USC §§ 6801-6827 (1999).*
- Greenleaf, Graham: “Global data privacy laws 2019: 132 national laws & many bills,” 157 Privacy Laws & Business International Report, 14-18 (Feb. 2019).*
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Pub.L. 104-191 (1996).*
- Stephens, John: “California Consumer Privacy Act,” ABA Business and Corporate Litigation Committee Newsletter – Spring 2019 (Feb. 2019).*
- Sullivan, Clare Linda: “Digital Identity, privacy and the right to the identity in the United States of America,” Computer Law & Security Review #29 348-358 (Dec. 2013).*
- U.S. Const. Amend. IV.*