Using an opt-in approach will help curb the excesses of Big Tech.

Americans have become inured to the relentless collection of their personal information online. Imagine, for example, if getting your suit pressed at the dry cleaner’s automatically and permanently signed you up to have scores of inferences about you — measurements, gender, race, language, fabric preferences, credit card type — shared with retailers, cleaning product advertisers and hundreds of other dry cleaners, who themselves had arrangements to share that data with others. It might give you pause.

But that’s the daily reality on the internet. Every minute a person spends online helps countless companies build a thicker dossier about that person.

Despite what corporations profess, much of this personal data is used not to improve products themselves, but to make those products more attractive to advertisers.

One straightforward solution is to let people opt in to data collection on apps and websites. Today, with few exceptions, loads of personal data are collected automatically by default unless consumers take action to opt out of the practice — which, in most cases, requires dropping the service entirely.

Virginia recently had the opportunity to extend firmer data protection rights to its residents. But the state’s Consumer Data Protection Act, signed into law this month, is a business-friendly package, supported by Amazon and Microsoft, that puts the onus on consumers to opt out of most data collection, except for the most sensitive personal details. Washington State lawmakers are advancing similar legislation.

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