opinion

COLUMN: Requiring informed user consent



Never before in history has so much personal information been widely available to so many people.

Our computers automatically communicate to others on the same wireless network. Companies record and save our voices for years.

Companies you and I have never heard of purchase our personal information with no consent.

People have a right to be scared about what information exists in the public eye, yet so little priority is given to the issue.

The United States possesses no uniform set of laws mandating certain privacy practices, nor do any other countries in the world.

If something is to be done about keeping information private when it comes to technology, governments around the world must prioritize laws about informed user consent.

Informed user consent is the notion every person knows exactly what is happening every time they click a button.

We’ve all gone through and agreed to the terms and conditions for a website or software piece.

Sure, somewhere buried in those terms and conditions it says a company may sell all the personal data you’ve inputted on a 
website.

But most people don’t read those conditions or aren’t aware. This is not informed user consent.

The average person can’t be the watchdog of their own information if they have to read and understand hundreds of pages of legal documents.

Informed user consent would be Apple constantly and intelligently informing you that every time you talk to Siri, your voice is being kept on a server somewhere.

This doesn’t have to be a notification every single time you use Siri, but it might be a reminder every few months or so that you agree for your voice to be recorded.

It should be, easy enough for everyone to 
understand.

Western nations must prioritize laws that require informed user consent.

Technology companies often rely on personal data collection for money.

There is little incentive for them to inform the user about what information is being collected.

However, if Western nations worked together to push penalties on companies that take advantage of uninformed users, the average person might know what personal data is out there.

I love technology. It’s extremely helpful, and I only hope it continues to get better as I get older.

One can only imagine the potential benefits of comparing millions of individual human DNA genomes one day with technology.

However, if that is the case, every participant should be reasonably informed about what privacy they give away.

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