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Data Privacy is Going Mainstream: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Data Privacy Laws Are Gaining Attention With The Help Of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Note to parents, this video has an Age-Rating 15+ from Common Sense Media

Is your state among the list?

Utah recently passed the Utah Consumer Privacy Act, making it the fourth U.S. state to pass a comprehensive consumer data privacy law after California, Virginia, and Colorado passed similar laws.

According to The National Law Review [1], privacy rights laws have been proposed (but not passed!) in the following states: Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington. 

To complicate things, not all of these laws are created equal. It’s generally understood that California’s laws are the most comprehensive. Utah’s new law on the other hand, came under fire from the EFF[2], saying, “This bill protects privacy in name only, and lacks real protections or teeth”. The EFF called for the Governor to “veto this bill and ask the legislature to pass a bill that truly protects the people of Utah.”

The majority of Americans are stuck between no protection at all and privacy laws that leave the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s unbelievable that outside of these four states, U.S. citizens have no legal right to opt out of the sale of their personal information. Please write to your elected officials demanding a comprehensive data privacy law that protects all U.S. citizens.

Awareness is growing

In the episode, John Oliver takes the viewer from targeted online ads, to data brokers, to the creepy people finder websites that Optery’s opt out removal services cover. The video went viral, quickly topping 4.8 million viewers on YouTube. Make sure you watch the ending! 😎

The episode raises awareness of the uphill-battle facing consumers trying to safeguard their data privacy, challenges we are very familiar with at Optery. Humor can be a useful way to diffuse fear, raise awareness and bring people together. John Oliver strikes a good balance between taking consumers’ privacy challenges seriously while also letting us see the humor and irony in the daunting fight for privacy rights that we are engaged in. 

Below are some relevant timestamps, quotes, and links from the video 👇


Discussions online



Highlights from the episode: 

“The unchecked middlemen of surveillance capitalism.”  – for Wired Magazine by JUSTIN SHERMAN

“Daughter Killed in Car Crash Or Current Business” Al Jazeera story 

“Every time you are interacting with society, you are leaving little breadcrumbs that can be gathered together and sold.”

Cookies, Web tracking and third-party cookies. Epsilon. 

Client IDs, and sorting you into lists, ex:
“Couples with Clout”, “Ambitions Singles”, “Kids and Cabernet”

Ailments, Sexual Preferences. Names and Addresses of people with serious illnesses. Diabetes, Cancer. Private Information For Sale. HIPAA. 

2014 Epsilon 60 minutes. Department of Justice Settlement $150MM 

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/marketing-company-agrees-pay-150-million-facilitating-elder-fraud-schemes 

Epsilon admitted that the DTC Unit sold more than 30 million consumers’ data to fraudulent schemes.

Apps on your phone can give away your exact location to third parties, sometimes without you even knowing it. The Life360 scandal, de-identify user data. 

Brightest Flashlight FTC Settlement

Domestic Violence victims right to privacy

Data Brokers Know Where You Are—and Want to Sell That Intel – Justin Sherman Wired Magazine

Warrantless deportations, surveillance by Federal Agencies, FBI, ICE

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