Taking a Stand for Montanans’ Privacy Rights, Tester Condemns Online Data Collection Practices

Senator: “The public trust is being lost”

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester stood up for Montanans’ right to privacy during a Senate Banking Committee hearing this week, where he condemned the practice of collecting and selling consumer data by large corporations.

“I’m really, really old school. In fact, when I get out of this job, this baby is going away,” Tester said, pulling out his cell phone. “I don’t like people tracking me on it, and I say ‘don’t track me’ but I’m not sure that has any effect. I don’t like when I use a website, and then I immediately get telephone calls from telemarketers… the internet can be used to do marvelous things, and is being used to do marvelous things. But I think there are other people out there that are exploiting it to make themselves into billionaires.”

Tester’s frustration stems from a lack of transparency around internet-based companies that use people’s personal data to generate huge profits.

Companies like Facebook and Google make the majority of their profits by tracking user data and selling it to advertisers, resulting in an industry worth over $100 billion. This process remains largely unregulated in the United States, allowing large corporations to sell off personal data with little or no consent from consumers.

Tester has been a consistent advocate for corporate transparency and data privacy. He recently slammed tech executives over their use of consumers’ private data and has continually condemned the use of mass government surveillance under the PATRIOT Act.

Tester took Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to task after reports revealed that the company shared the personal information of more than 87 million Americans without their consent. He also grilled former Equifax CEO Richard Smith after the personal information of more than 367,000 Montanans was compromised in the company’s massive data breach.