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12/11/2018 Rep. Shanley takes helm of commission to study Internet transparency and privacy protection
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) has been elected chairman of a special legislative commission to study privacy protection on the Internet.

The 11-member Rhode Island Online Data Transparency and Privacy Protection Commission, which had its inaugural meeting on Tuesday, will study and make recommendations on legislation and/or regulations for protecting individuals from disclosures of information, and will report back to the House no later than Feb. 5, 2019.

“Privacy is a fundamental right,” said Representative Shanley. “The Internet has changed our understanding of privacy, and consumers need to be better informed about what information is shared with other businesses and how that information is shared. Everyone has the right to protect their families from cyber-crimes and identity thieves.”

In addition to Representative Shanley, the commission comprises four state representatives, Alex D. Marszalkowski (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland), Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) and Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry); Christina Fisher, a representative of TechNet a web service for IT professionals; Dr. Cedric Priebe of Lifespan; Michelle Cinquegrano, representing internet provider Verizon; Tom Wilkerson, representing the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association; and John Simmons of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

According to the resolution creating the commission, businesses are now collecting personal information and sharing and selling it in ways not contemplated or properly covered by the current law. Some websites are installing tracking tools that record when consumers visit webpages and sending personal information, such as age, gender, race, income, health concerns, religion, and recent purchases to third-party marketers and data brokers.

Those third-party data broker companies are buying, selling, and trading personal information obtained from mobile phones, financial institutions, social media sites, and other online and brick and mortar companies. Some mobile applications are sharing personal information, such as location information, unique phone identification numbers, and age, gender, and other personal details with third-party companies.

“Many consumers are wholly unaware of how much of their personal information is floating around cyberspace, being sold back and forth by various companies,” said Representative Shanley. “It’s a blatant violation of privacy and we need to make sure consumers are equipped with the tools to protect themselves. I look forward to chairing this commission and developing legislation and policy to address these problems.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903