Data Promises

Deciding how data can and/or will be used in the future is exceedingly more difficult than deciding how it will not be used. Data Promises require companies to define what they will not do with data and the point at which they will hold themselves accountable.

Policy Overview

Companies have openly asked for federal legislation that creates a consistent standard and prevents inconsistency across state lines. However, it's been clear that our elected officials lack the technical knowleldge required to determine what needs to be done. This has resulted in laws that lack proper scope and definition. It has also led companies to complain about their “inability to live up to the spirit of the law.” Neither of these outcomes is beneficial to consumers.

A Data Promise is a legal commitment to what any given company will not do with data. If the promise(s) created by the company is (are) broken, the company will be held liable.

The purpose of the Data Promise is to put legislation in place that forces companies to cooperatively participate in the creation of law that is well-defined, actionable, and enforceable.

Details of Prohibited Use Policies

  • Should be produced by a specified date or period of time, post-ratification of law
  • Should be reviewed annually, and updated as necessary

Enforcement of Prohibited Use Policy

  • If not produced within a given time, company should be fined
  • If not reviewed annually by proper authorities, company should be fined
  • Breaches of policy should result in criminal liability for company executives, as well as fines
  • The consumers should have a private right of action that enables individuals to sue companies, if desired

Policy Benefits

  • Doesn’t require regulators to speculate as to how data is or could possibly be used
  • ‍Puts responsibility on businesses to hold themselves accountable
  • Gives consumers an idea of how data will not be used and what they can do if company goes against its Promise
  • Simple and flexible enough to implement across the web tomorrow

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We've spent the last several years surveying the landscape and creating proposals for how to make a better internet.