Californians may soon get a cut of the proceeds when tech giants like Facebook sell their personal data.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support for such an initiative during his State of the State address on Tuesday, according to Gizmodo — a move that could permanently upset the balance of power between the world’s biggest tech corporations and their users.
“Companies that make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it,” Newsom said in his address. “Consumers have a right to know and control how their data is being used.”
Currently, Newsom’s proposal is lacking in details — it’s really more of a concept at this point, but he took a strong stance against user exploitation by tech corporations, many of which are housed in his state.
“I applaud this legislature for passing the first-in-the-nation digital privacy law last year,” Newsom said. “But California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data. And so I’ve asked my team to develop a proposal for a new data dividend for Californians, because we recognize that your data has value and it belongs to you.”
At the moment, Newsom is “open to constructive feedback,” according to a statement his office sent to CBS.
Presumably, that input will help the proposal avoid potentially dicey waters, as a push to pay people a share of a tech company’s profits may backfire. For instance, tech companies may retaliate by requiring subscriptions for previously-free services, similarly to how Uber threatened to raise prices if New York City increased its minimum wage.
But the proposal may have the opposite effect — internet users may be willing to give away their personal information in exchange for just a few bucks, Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeffrey Chester warned CBS.
“They shouldn’t be tricked into giving away their privacy for a small discount,” Chester told CBS. “Selling it for a few bucks isn’t the answer and will make the problem worse.”
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