The U.S. is woefully behind the rest of the world in enacting universal, comprehensive data privacy laws that protect consumers. A messy patchwork of disjointed and woefully outdated laws leaves Americans vulnerable to attacks on their private data.
However, the federal government can learn from other governments, both foreign and domestic, to develop laws that give everyday Americans more control over their personal information.
It would be inaccurate to say that the U.S. does not have laws that protect data. In fact, it has too many. According to The New York Times, the U.S. “has a mix of laws that go by acronyms like HIPAA, FCRA, FERPA, GLBA, ECPA, COPPA, and VPPA.” How could anyone expect the average American to know the details behind these laws, designed to target specific industries in limited (and often outdated) circumstances, much less know what any one of these acronyms stand for?
You can rest assured that your VHS rental records will never be leaked, thanks to the Video Privacy Protection Act, or VPPA, passed in 1988. But what’s deeply concerning is how little protection these laws offer Americans in the 21st century with far more prevalent and pervasive technologies. In most states, companies can use, share or sell your data without your consent and are not required to notify you if your data has been breached.