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Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) & Sen.

Josh Hawley (R-MO)



User data is quickly becoming the single most important economic input in the digital economy. This is
particularly the case with social media platforms, where user data allows for more targeted and relevant ads
and customized services. But increasingly, as predictive analytics and machine learning permeates ever-
greater parts of our digital economy, user data serves as the key enabler for an enormous range of products
and services. However, there is currently little transparency into the data collected by platforms – what,
exactly, a provider has collected; how it was collected; and what the commercial value is. This serves as a
major obstacle for agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking to address competitive and
consumer harms.

Customers have consistently been told that these services are ‘free.’ Yet the current lack of transparency
impedes consumers’ ability to fully understand the terms of the exchange and decide for themselves whether
they are getting a fair deal from the platform companies that monetize their data. And as dominant social
media platforms continue to amend this bargain — free services in exchange for access to user data — in
their own favor, this problem is only getting worse for American consumers.
The Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broader Oversight and Regulations on Data
(DASHBOARD) Act would begin to level the playing field for consumers — requiring companies to
regularly disclose to consumers the ways in which their data are being used, the third parties it is being
shared with, and most importantly, what their data is worth to the platform.
This will serve three important goals. First, consumers will be able to determine the true value of the data
they are providing to platforms. Second, making the value more transparent could increase competition by
attracting competitors to the market. Finally, disclosing the economic value of consumer data will also assist
antitrust enforcers in identifying unfair transactions and anticompetitive transactions and practices.
This bill also provides long overdue transparency for shareholders — shining a light on how technology
firms collect, retain, monetize and protect some of their most valuable, if intangible, assets.
The bill would:

 Require commercial data operators (defined as services with over 100 million monthly users) to
disclose types of data collected as well as regularly provide their users with an assessment of the
value of that data.
 Require commercial data operators to file an annual report on the aggregate value of user data
they’ve collected, as well as contracts with third parties involving data collection.
 Require commercial data operators to allow users to delete all, or individual fields, of data collected
– and disclose to users all the ways in which their data is being used.
 Empower the SEC to develop methodologies for calculating data value, while encouraging the
agency to facilitate flexibility to enable businesses to adopt methodologies that reflect the different
uses, sectors, and business models.