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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Assembly strengthens data privacy for Marylanders

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Monday, April 15, 2024   

Advocates are cheering the General Assembly for legislation protecting Marylanders' data privacy and are calling on Gov. Wes Moore to sign the bill.

The Maryland Online Privacy Protection Act of 2024 would limit data collection by tech companies as well as their ability to bury unfavorable terms in complex license agreements.

R.J. Cross, director of the Don't Sell My Data Campaign for the Public Interest Research Group, said the new law is a win for consumers.

"No one reads those long privacy policies. They're often vague and full of legalese and so, hiding what a company wants to do with your data there is pretty duplicitous and not being consumer friendly," Cross contended. "The Maryland law takes a very different approach and said it's not enough; you can't just hide things in your fine print. You need to have good data practices that protect people upfront."

She pointed out the Maryland law would be one of the strongest in the nation. If Gov. Moore signs the bill, it would go into effect in October 2025.

The bill gives consumers the right to have some personal data deleted and places limits on the kind of widespread monitoring used to generate targeted advertising. Cross noted such data collection is common.

"A lot of our favorite websites and apps are gathering things like what you've searched for online, every website you visited, your location, maybe even your entire phone contact list," Cross outlined. "It has turned around and sold that information to companies that you've probably never even heard of."

With data breaches consistently making news, Cross added the bill will improve Marylanders' personal security.

"A lot of what this will do is limit how much data is being collected about you and sold, which will help your personal security in a big way," Cross explained. "The more data that companies collect about you, and the more they sell it to other companies, the more likely it's going to be exposed in a breach or a hack."


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