The central theme of the ‘Right to Know’ Act is transparency – creating a way for the user of a service to request and thus understand all the information a company has about them in terms of what was given, what was shared, as well as what may have been inferred. And despite various company spokesmen speaking up in favor of AB 1291 (e.g. increased transparency), behind closed doors many of these same companies are working to defeat the bill via industry groups and coalitions.
It is tough to argue against transparency. And it has always been our belief that a more transparent ecosystem would give way to a better educated consumer which ultimately means a better business environment. After all, we would hate to think that somehow companies were taking advantage of us in any way and the ‘Right to Know’ Act is a way through this potential fear.
For these reasons and more, we felt compelled to come out in favor of AB 1291. Below is the letter we sent to Assemblymember Lowenthal in show of our support:
March 21, 2013
The Honorable Bonnie Lowenthal
State Capitol, Room 3152
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Support for AB 1291 (Lowenthal), The Right to Know Act
Dear Assemblymember Lowenthal:
On behalf of SpiderOak, Inc, we are writing to express our support for AB 1291, the Right to Know Act.
The Right to Know Act would modernize California’s Shine the Light Act (Civ. Code 1798.83), which was intended to provide Californians with the right to know when businesses are sharing their personal information. In the years since the passage of the Shine the Light Act, its definitions and mechanisms have been outpaced by rapid changes in technology, data collection, and business practices. The Right to Know Act would update this important measure.
We stand in support of the Right to Know Act for two reasons. First, SpiderOak strongly supports the principle that individuals deserve the right to know how their personal information has been collected and shared. Protecting user privacy needs to be an essential part of how we as a society address the growth of online activity. Therefore, we support efforts to provide individuals with consistent transparency across all of the companies who handle personal information.
Second, SpiderOak believes that transparency and greater understanding will help all businesses in the modern data ecosystem thrive – including SpiderOak. Businesses that handle personal information rely on user trust – that the business is handling information with the utmost care and concern. As the ‘cloud’ medium grows, information collection and gathering has increased exponentially. By increasing transparency, we believe that the Right to Know Act will promote good data stewardship across the board and thus increase overall trust in and usage of data-driven services, promoting innovation and business growth.
California residents and companies both deserve an online world where users can truly understand how their personal information is collected and shared. Transparency is a necessary step in building that world. For that reason, we are proud to join you in supporting the Right to Know Act.
We are curious to hear your thoughts on the ‘Right to Know’ Act and where you stand. Feel free to leave your comments here and looking forward to the dialogue!