The ACLU of Massachusetts today testified before state lawmakers in support of the Massachusetts Information Privacy Act (MIPA), landmark legislation that would provide residents with the most robust digital privacy and equity protections in the nation.
"Without a modern data privacy law, corporations have free rein to track our locations and activities, secretly manipulate our opportunities and choices, and take advantage of our personal information for their own profit,” said Kade Crockford, Technology for Liberty program director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Bay Staters should not have to choose between using the internet and their privacy.”
Introduced by Representatives Andy Vargas and Dave Rogers and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem, MIPA blends the best approaches from other states and jurisdictions like California, Illinois, and the European Union to protect people’s privacy, safety, and financial security in the digital world. Experts testified today that MIPA would be the strongest privacy legislation in the country, with clear prohibitions and enforcement to hold companies accountable.
“I was proud to file the Massachusetts Information Privacy Act this session, because we need to make sure that in this increasingly digital world, technology is not developing faster than our privacy protections,” said Senator Creem. “This legislation would provide robust digital privacy safeguards and help Massachusetts lead in this area.”
“We are living through an age when the pace of technological change is far outstripping the ability of sensible public policy to keep up. We see it all around us, perhaps nowhere more than in the sphere of our personal information,” said Representative Rogers. "Access to the internet is not a luxury; it’s now a necessity. As we continue to do more online, the Massachusetts Information Privacy Act seeks to level the playing field, by regulating the use our sensitive information as more and more people use online services and platforms.”
“Massachusetts laws that address consumer data privacy rights are extremely limited and inadequate for 2021,” said Representative Vargas. "It’s time we protect our constituents and modernize our laws. As more and more consumers become aware of their data vulnerabilities and privacy concerns, we have a responsibility to establish laws that level the playing field between individuals and corporations, protecting both individual rights and our larger society.”
Among other provisions, MIPA includes the following privacy and civil rights protections for people in Massachusetts:
- Protects people from the unwelcome collection, use, and monetization of our personal information
- Provides special protection to our most sensitive personal information, including location and biometric data
- Makes it unlawful for companies to use people’s personal information to discriminate against them
- Ensures accountability by establishing a new Massachusetts Information Privacy Commission with the authority to investigate, enforce, and create privacy regulations, and giving ordinary people the right to sue companies that violate the law
“MIPA combines the best elements of existing privacy rules and adds strong enforcement provisions and meaningful checks on surveillance,” said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University. “With it, Massachusetts can give the country its best shot at holding big companies fully accountable for our privacy.”
Massachusetts privacy law hasn’t been meaningfully updated since before smartphones existed—an untenable situation that allows corporations to collect massive amounts of personal information, and subjects people to the secretive and unregulated manipulations of companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Just last week, a Facebook whistleblower testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about the company’s outsized power and dangerous anti-privacy practices.
MIPA is currently before the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity.
For more information about MIPA, go to: https://www.aclum.org/en/legislation/massachusetts-information-privacy-act
For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to: http://www.aclum.org