In a world where software shapes and powers our lives, CR can help people reclaim agency, demand better from platform-based businesses, and ensure that innovation is a force for human advancement, creativity, and freedom.
People love the benefits of the digital world, but just 9 percent of people believe they have “a lot of control” over the information that is collected about them, even as 74 percent say “it is very important to be in control.” This points to a disconnect between supply and demand: Consumers’ expectations are not being served in the marketplace. But because of the complexity of the issue, people feel powerless. It is not merely that people’s data is extracted and used without their understanding, consent, or control; it’s how this data is used to manipulate behaviors, exploit cognitive biases, and power automated decision-making by opaque algorithms, which disproportionately harm low-income consumers and communities of color.
In a time of social distancing, almost every aspect of our lives has become digital. And while local shops, restaurants, and other services are shuttered, the largest platform-based businesses are devouring their customers and jobs—further concentrating economic power and market domination.
CR will work with its coalition partners to reshape the terms of the digital marketplace in consumers’ favor. In 2018, CR was a part of a coalition to aid the passage of the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, the nation’s first comprehensive privacy bill. The momentum from this victory has created a window for us to spearhead a larger coalition to pass additional reforms and protections—including a much-needed federal privacy law. CR will also scale up product testing and partnerships through the Digital Standard, working with manufacturers to shape the design of connected products and services, and enabling them to compete and differentiate on emerging consumer values such as privacy and fairness. Finally, CR will launch innovative products and services that help people control their data and exercise their data privacy rights.
To model our values, we are working to improve the data privacy experience of our own members and users. Specifically, we are rewriting our privacy policies so that they are clear and concise, building digital products that collect and retain only the minimal data necessary, and introducing an easy-to-understand interface for consumers to exercise their right to access or delete their personal information. And as our journey continues, we hope to share our experience to help others with theirs.
In a world where software shapes and powers our lives, CR can help people reclaim agency, demand better from platform-based businesses, and ensure that innovation is a force for human advancement, creativity, and freedom. We are uniquely positioned to drive change and contribute to mainstreaming understanding and awareness of the need to preserve competition, choice, and agency in the marketplace.
How will we know if we succeeded?
- Manufacturers have raised the standard on privacy and security.
- Consumers have access to data control solutions.
- Competition and consumer privacy protections are strengthened at the state and federal level.