Senators Introduce Bill That Would Ban Websites From Using Manipulative Consent Forms

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Platforms are very good at encouraging users to sign away the rights to their data. However, a new bill introduced to the US Senate might make certain strategies illegal.

The Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act—introduced by US Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE)—would make certain ways that companies try to manipulate users into giving away their data illegal and punishable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Per the bill, companies would be banned from manipulating adults into signing away their data, or manipulating children into staying on a platform compulsively. The bill also requires platforms to ensure informed consent from users before green-lighting academic studies.

The legislation follows in the footsteps of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates that companies get informed consent from users before collecting their data. California’s prospective data privacy law, if passed, would also require companies to be more transparent about the types of information they collect from users. But if passed, the DETOUR Act would be federal law, meaning tech companies may have to make widespread changes to their platform in order to comply.

The DETOUR Act would make it illegal to “design, modify, or manipulate