The US bill would allow users to forgo algorithms on online platforms

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In letter: Last week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed a bill aimed at reducing personalization algorithms. If approved, it would allow users to choose whether or not to allow an online platform’s curation algorithms to use their personal data to provide them with “specialized content”.

Axios notes that the latest version of the Filter the bubble transparency law would prevent technology platforms from using “opaque algorithms” for check what content users see without first notifying them and obtaining their consent. The bill makes exceptions for things like smaller tech companies, research groups, and age-appropriate content filters.

The bill would apply to any online platform with more than 500 employees that collects data on more than 1 million users or has averaged over $ 50 million in revenue over the past three years. This is the House of Representatives version of a United States Senate bill introduced in June of this year, sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA). Representatives Ken Buck (R-CO.), David Cicilline (D-RI), Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Burgess Owens (R-UT) sponsored the House proposal. Lawmakers say the bill will help users of online platforms better understand how algorithms control what they see.

“The more transparency consumers have about how social media and other internet platforms prioritize content over their services, the better,” Thune said of the June version of the bill.

Blumenthal called the algorithms of big technologies “manipulative” and accused them of exploiting users. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, for example, has often been a target of criticism.

The law would be similar to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Policy, which requires apps to allow iOS users to opt out of collecting data used in targeted advertising. The new rules reportedly prompted social media platforms to loose already billions.

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