Right to Know Act: Facebook and Google Don't Want You to Know What They're Doing With Your Data


The battle for internet privacy never seems to go away. Even after the defeat of alphabet soup legislation SOPA, PIPA, and now CISPA, it is clear that government and big corporations still want to take control of the information you post online. 

Silicon Valley companies, which includ internet giants Facebook and Google, are doing what they can, especially by lobbying Representatives, to stop legislation in California that would allow individuals to see what these companies are doing with their information. 

In California, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal introduced A.B.1291, the "Right to Know Act of 2013." A.B 1291 essentially gives individuals the means of knowing what companies, such as Google and Facebook, are doing with the information their users give them. Companies have quickly jumped in opposition to this bill; 15 companies, which include representatives of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others, have banded together to demand Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal drop the bill.

Google is the largest search engine, but they offer more than just searches from across the internet. Google services range from offering a free phone number to maintaining all your documents in an online database. Every time Google makes a terms of service update, people tend to feel uncomfortable about it, and rightly so. On January 24, 2012, Google updated their terms of service and released a video explaining their new rules.


Google has run into trouble before in regards to the privacy of individual users. Google Docs, one of Google's most used services, has run into issues where people have shared their documents with others that were not given permission to do so. Whether you are a college student that has just finished their final, or a company that has their information stored online as backup, your information should not be shared without your permission, which is acknowledged by Google.

Outlook.com, which is a branch of the Microsoft Corporation, released a video explaining how Google's email service uses your own emails to send you ads.

Facebook is another company that is standing with Google in opposition to this bill. The social media company itself has had a number of privacy concerns regarding providing information to third-party websites. If Facebook was making money off your information, by selling or giving it to third party sites, you should be informed of what is going on. Once you are informed, then you have the choice to continue with their service or terminate your account with them.

Facebook ran into a problem similar to Google, because it had plans to share a user's data and information with third-party websites which they may not have had an account with. This is a problem since your information may be on a website that you do not like. Although these companies have taken measures to prevent your personal information from being accessed by some other individual, they seem to have no problem sharing it with their partners and websites that they do business with.

The Silicon Valley companies were since able to postpone the bill from reaching a committee hearing, through means of lobbying. Those who support internet privacy should keep watch on the Right to Know Act of 2013, as it may just set the precedent on what companies can do with your information.

If Google, Facebook, or any of the other 15 companies against the Right To Know Act care about the privacy of their users, they should not have a problem letting an individual see what is being done with their information.