Sara Jodka Speech Review
Author: Jasmine Milum
The EF Hutton talk’s conference featured guest speaker Sara Jodka, an attorney who masters data privacy and cybersecurity issues. She begins by explaining where our data rights come from. Back in a time before the mass use of digital media, the concern of where personal data was distributed was at a minimum. Now there is much more opportunity to share personal data because of how often it is required. When we make social media accounts, sign contracts, join memberships, download apps, and many of the other digital requirements of the 21st century they are often accompanied with terms and conditions that require users to accept or decline use of the product, app, or service altogether.
With such an all or nothing in a digitally demanding world, users consent to their data and information being used by large companies in whatever ways they list in their terms and conditions. To users, it seems as if these large platforms can do whatever that want with their data. In reality, these companies do whatever users allow them to, which is a lot.
There are organizations that are focused on supporting users because they understand the value of user’s data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European organization that enforces laws on data protection and data privacy of European Citizens. They hold digital services to standards that reflect the rights that users should have. Although being in Europe, the GDPR regulations apply to any internet service that is usable by European Citizens. This is important for users because many large platforms have active consumers in European countries, so most websites have updated to fit or come near the new GDPR standard. Other strides have been fought for #UserRights, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA focuses on protecting medical information. The Federal Trade Commission is an organization that guards consumers’ financial information. There is also the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) from 1998. This provides rights for minors. Some of their regulations include that platforms must obtain consent to collect data from users aged 13 and under, from an adult. FERPA or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act focuses on education and provides rights to students and families. These are just a few of much necessary organization that paves the way for user’s rights. The only problem lies in the fact that many are non-national and apply differently state by state, making what companies can get away with quite confusing for users.
Of all of these rights Sara Jodka shared at the conference, she also explained how users lose their rights. Through contract and interpretations the courts can give in each state, there is much more from users to lose the rights to their data online. She mentioned how far our data can go. It’s a concern much deeper than companies giving advertisers too much access to users. For example, the Carpenter v. United States brought the question of whether or not the Fourth Amendment is violated when cell phones are seared for data without a warrant.
It was decided on June 22, 2018, that it, in fact, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This results of this case, however, should not result in relief because every day, many users give up their rights when they accept the terms and conditions of many large platforms, usually unknowingly because most users don’t actually read the terms and conditions they accept.
There was a point in the early 2000’s where digital privacy protections was beginning to become a concern to most. Up until the terrorist attacks of 2001 when national security became the top priority. Understandingly, the rights of data that people shared online were no longer completely in the hands of the user, in the name of national protection. Now, 17 years later, the conversation of digital privacy protection is being brought back up because of the outrageous amount of personal data available to big platforms. Try taking a look at the data you can retrieve from Facebook while keeping in mind that that amount of data still is not all of the information the platform has on you.
The most important thing to remember from Sara Jodka’s speech is that your information has value. If it didn’t, then these large platforms would not spend the time or money on requiring your consent to collect your information. We as a community must not wait until the next disaster to care. After Target, Home Depot, Anthem, Yahoo, Equifax, Ashley Madison and other data security incidents, we have more than enough reason to care who access our valuable information and what they do with it.