Pheffer Amato Introduces First Data Dividend Bill in NYS

Consumers’ data is used by numerous companies who make millions of dollars from selling their users’ information, Pheffer Amato wants consumers to have piece of the pie

Albany, New York Recently, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) submitted legislation (A.9112) calling for tech companies who profit off of their consumers data to contribute a portion of their gross income into new mutual fund managed by the state, which would pay out a yearly dividend to taxpayers. The bill is the first bill in the state calling for the creation of a “Data Dividend”.

“Every status, like or comment we post, photo we upload, song we listen to, email we send - basically every activity we partake in on the internet or through our phones is used by tech giants for substantial profit,” Pheffer Amato said. “I love being able to keep in touch with my friends and family over social media, drive to and from Albany with the least amount of traffic with my GPS, but the reality is that every time I use these apps, my information is sold. I fully support tech companies simplifying our lives, and making our world better by using data responsibly, but consumers should get their fair share. By creating a state-run mutual fund that distributes a yearly dividend, New York taxpayers get more money in their pockets from profits they create.”

Examples of a dividend distributed to taxpayers through a state managed investment fund already exist, one model is the Alaska Permanent Fund. The Permanent Fund invests a 25% revenue tax leveled every year on oil and mineral activity in the state into a mutual fund that pays a yearly dividend[i], last year’s dividend was $1,600[ii] for every eligible Alaskan resident including children. The idea of a 5% revenue tax on companies that profit from the sharing of data originated from Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes in 2018[iii]. In 2019, according to estimates on the numbers of users and data rate per user, Facebook made between $480million and $960million worldwide by selling their users data[iv].