It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know

by Jeff Sovern

That's the headline of an article in today's Times about how cell phones enable cell phone companies to know the location of consumers where ever they go, something of which consumers may not be aware. One of the problems with our privacy laws is that they generally do not give consumers a right to learn what companies know about them (the Fair Credit Protection Act being one of the exceptions). That is also a problem with so-called self-regulation and privacy policies: because companies define for themselves what the regulation and policy will entail, they have little reason to give consumers a right to find out what the company knows about consumers. just as we did not know how frequent data security breaches were until California enacted a law requiring that companies suffering such a breach disclose that it had occurred (a statute many other states later mimicked), I believe we will not discover what companies know about us until we see statutes requiring companies to disclose that information upon request. And when we learn what they know, I suspect many of us will not be pleased.