The Government Protects Our Food and Cars. Why Not Our Data?

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After Apple discovered in June that certain MacBook laptops could overheat, posing a fire hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission quickly issued a warning, along with information about consumer burns and smoke inhalation.

But after Apple learned that its FaceTime video chat app was enabling consumers to listen in on the conversations of people they called — even when the recipients did not answer their phones — there was no designated federal protection agency to warn Americans or collect reports of privacy invasions.

After Fitbit wristbands began causing people to develop skin rashes and blisters a few years ago, the consumer safety agency announced a recall of about one million of the fitness-tracking devices.

But after Strava, a popular fitness-tracking app, posted a granular map of its users’ workout routines last year, exposing their locations — including for personnel on remote military bases in Iraq — there was no agency to alert people to the risks or stop the company from revealing their data.

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Common Ground
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