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By the 1890s, fresh New England lobsters were served in Denver dining rooms. What made that culinary feat possible was a transcontinental rail system that whisked the highly perishable shellfish quickly and easily from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. The engineering marvel of its day, the railroad worked because it was built on a unified set of standards and specifications. Had the railroad been forced to comply with different rules set by states or thousands of local jurisdictions, Mile High residents might have waited decades to experience the sweet and succulent joys of lobster tails.

Today, we’re facing a similar challenge, this time moving something that isn’t as massive as a locomotive—although it’s just as powerful. Data has become the engine driving digital commerce faster and farther than it would otherwise go. It recommends movies to you on Netflix. Based on your buying history, it alerts you to deals on Amazon. It stores your credit card information on Google, so you don’t have to pull out your wallet every time you want to make a purchase. In many ways, it makes your life easier.

But data needs to be used in the right way. It needs to be used honestly. It needs to be used ethically, in a way that is transparent to users.

It shouldn’t be used in deceptive apps to collect data on children. Data shouldn’t be collected without permission.

BRIDGE is championing an ethical data collection and use framework that promotes transparency, control and consent for consumers while enabling respected brands to provide more relevant marketing to these same people.

At BRIDGE, we support a national privacy law for the US, akin to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the absence of similar federal legislation, more than a dozen states —including California, Virginia, Alabama, Vermont, and Iowa—have started passing their own laws. We believe it would be universally beneficial to define rules that maintain the benefits of data in our economy while providing protections and rights to people. Having a hodge-podge of state privacy laws will be challenging and costly to our economy. This climate will be confusing to marketers and consumers alike. It will cause tension and distrust. It will make everyone’s lives more difficult.

BRIDGE is committed to an environment where every consumer has control over the collection and use of their data in a clear, transparent way. Since we already voluntarily adhere to stringent data collection and use policies, we’re confident that we can help point the way to a standardized solution. We look forward to working with standards groups, colleagues, and regulators to develop a common set of rules that would promote greater trust in the data-driven commerce that consumers have come to expect and enjoy.

Ari Saposh

Author Ari Saposh

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