Thursday, August 15, 2019

Alastair Mactaggart Joins My Privacy Hall Of Fame

“I just think the data use by these companies is out of control”

--Alastair Mactaggart, California Real Estate Developer

Who is Alastair Mactaggart? He has done more than any other person to expand the privacy rights of individuals in the United States. In 2016, Mactaggart, who earned a fortune in Bay Area real estate, was talking with a Google employee about the amount of personal information collected by companies. This casual conversation led him to fund a citizens initiative that was set to appear on the November 2018 ballot in California. It would have given California residents extensive new rights to control how their data is collected and used by businesses. Following intensive lobbying by tech groups the ballot initiative was withdrawn by Mactaggart and in its place the California legislature (in less than a week) passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Effective January 1, 2020 the CCPA becomes the most extensive consumer privacy legislation ever passed in the United States. It gives Californians sweeping new data privacy rights, including a first-of-its-kind private right of action that will encourage lawsuits against businesses who fail to comply with the data breach portion of the CCPA. What a difference one person (with a lot of money) can make.

In case you were interested, here are some other members of my Privacy Hall of Fame………

“Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free” 

--Edward Snowden

A former NSA subcontractor, Snowden disclosed documents regarding government surveillance practices, including the revelation that Facebook allows U.S. intelligence services access to personal data of Europeans under NSA surveillance programs. Considered as either a hero whistle blower or a traitor, his global surveillance revelations helped convince the European Union’s highest court in 2015 to invalidate the so-called “Safe Harbor” program that allowed American companies to transfer the personal data of EU residents they collected to servers in the U.S. A new Privacy Shield program has since replaced Safe Harbor, but that program is also under scrutiny by EU regulators. Snowden’s revelations were key to the EU court decision and have been the basis for other more recent legal challenges brought by privacy advocates in Europe. 

“We are very pleased that for the first time a European data protection authority is using the possibilities of the GDPR to punish clear violations of the law”

--Maximillian Schrems, Austrian activist and founder of None of Your Business (NOYB)—European Centre for Digital Rights

Schrems and his group, NYOB, are responsible for bringing one of the first GDPR claims  against Google which resulted in a record fine of 50 million pounds. An Austrian activist and former law student at Santa Clara, he initiated a claim in 2013 against Facebook Ireland based on Facebook’s participation in the NSA mass surveillance program. This claim led to invalidation of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor program upon which thousands of American businesses had relied. He continues to bring privacy cases in EU courts based on violations of the GDPR and is currently challenging EU-U.S. data transfers under the current Privacy Shield program.  

“What could happen if we give people privacy and we give people control of their data?” 

--Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of World Wide Web

An English engineer and computer scientist, he is currently a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Professor at MIT. In 1990, he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet that became known as the world wide web. The web is now the common means of accessing data online in the form of websites and hyperlinks. The web helped popularize the internet among the public, and served as the crucial step in allowing us to connect with each other instantly all over the world.

“By giving people the power to share we’re making the world more transparent “ 

--Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook

Harvard computer scientist, and technology entrepreneur, Zuckerberg is known for co-founding and leading Facebook as its Chairman and CEO. Need I say more? 

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