What the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act means for you

How to exercise your rights under the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act

The Texas data privacy law gives you a bit of control over how businesses collect and use your personal data. Here's how to take advantage.

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Keeping your data safe online unfortunately requires some work.

The Texas privacy law – called the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act – passed in June 2023. It goes into effect July 1, 2024.

What is the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act?

The Texas Data Privacy and Security Act is a consumer privacy law that gives you some basic rights regarding how businesses collect, use and sell your data.

The Texas Data Privacy and Security Act (TDPSA) earns a F grade on our recent scorecard report – co-authored with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) – for how well it actually protects consumers.

Texas’ privacy law puts a lot of work on you if you want to stop companies from collecting and selling your data. It’d be better if instead companies were limited to what data they can collect on you and what they can do with it in the first place.

What does the Texas privacy law do for consumers?

The Texas privacy law gives you several rights regarding your personal information:

  • Right to Access: You can request a copy of the personal information businesses have collected about you.
  • Right to Correct: You can request a business correct inaccuracies in the personal information it has collected about you.
  • Right to Delete: You can request a business delete the personal information it has collected about you.
  • Right to Opt Out: You can opt out of businesses selling your personal information to advertisers and other third parties.

Most of these rights are difficult to exercise. To access, correct or delete your data, you have to submit requests one at a time to individual companies. Fully exercising the rights Texas’ privacy law gives you would be like taking on a part-time job. There are likely hundreds of third parties holding your information right now. 

However, starting January 1 of 2025, Texas residents will gain an important protection: the ability to more easily opt-out of data collection and sales. You will be able to automatically tell websites you don’t want them to collect new personal data from you by downloading a tool called a universal opt-out mechanism.

What is a universal opt-out mechanism and how do I get it?

A universal opt-out mechanism is a piece of technology that helps you automatically opt-out of data collection online. Once you’ve downloaded the tool, the mechanism will broadcast to every site you visit that you don’t want your data collected or sold. That way you don’t have to individually contact every website you visit to opt out. 

You will, however, need to do a bit of work to get the tool working.

How to use the Global Privacy Control

The Global Privacy Control is currently the most widely recognized version of universal opt-out mechanism. There are a number of tools available that incorporate the Global Privacy Control (GPC).

Find your web browser below for our recommendations of tools that include GPC signals. 

Global Privacy Control in Google Chrome

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites while using your Chrome browser, you need to download a special browser extension. You have a couple of options.

  • Our favorite is Privacy Badger made by our friends at Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can download Privacy Badger from the Chrome Web Store here. Once you download it, Privacy Badger will do the rest, and you shouldn’t have to take any more steps. We like this one because it has other privacy tools that will further protect your data built in, and it won’t disrupt your browsing experience.
  • Another good option is DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials from the Chrome Web Store here. In addition to using the GPC, this extension will change your default browser to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Chrome, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Apple Safari

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites in Safari, you need to download a special browser extension. Apple currently doesn’t allow our favorite tool – Privacy Badger – in Safari, but there is another option you can use.

  • DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download it from the Apple App Store here. In addition to using the GPC, this extension will change your default browser to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Safari, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Microsoft Edge

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites in Edge you’ll need to download a special browser extension. You have a couple of options:

  • Our favorite is Privacy Badger made by our friends at Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can download Privacy Badger from the Microsoft store here. Once you download it, Privacy Badger should do the rest, and you shouldn’t have to take any more steps. We like this one because it has other privacy tools that will further protect your data built in. 
  • Another good option is DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials from the Microsoft store here. DuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Edge, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is the only major browser that has a GPC signal built into it automatically, so you don’t have to download any special tools. But you do have to go turn it on.

How to enable GPC on Firefox
  1. Make sure you have a recent version of Firefox. Firefox started carrying the GPC in November 2023. If you haven’t updated your browser since then, do that first.
  2. In FireFox, click the menu button that’s 3 horizontal lines stacked on top of each other
  3. Go to Privacy & Security
  4. Scroll down to “Website Privacy Preferences”
  5. Click “Tell websites not to sell or share my data”
  6. Then close out of your Settings page. The change is saved automatically

The Global Privacy Control isn’t perfect, and it remains to be seen how well this part of the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act is enforced. But it’s worth going ahead and downloading a universal opt-out mechanism now, even before companies are required to listen to opt-out signals in July 2024.

How do I exercise my Texas privacy law rights?

To exercise your other core rights – accessing, correcting or deleting the data a company has already collected on you – you must submit a request directly to each business. Companies must tell you how to send a request in their privacy policy.

Read: How to read a privacy policy

Where can I find instructions for exercising my rights in a privacy policy?

When looking at a privacy policy, search for a section titled “Your Privacy Rights,” “Your Rights and Choices,” or something similar. Use ctrl+f for the term “privacy”, “rights”, or “opt” to find this information more quickly. In this section, the business should give you instructions for how to access, correct, or delete your personal data. It will typically be a web form or an email address you need to send a request to.

How could the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act be better?

The Texas Data Privacy and Security Act gives you some rights to ask companies to delete your data and the ability to use a browser tool to automatically opt-out of websites’ data collection. It sounds nice, but really it puts the onus on you to become a data privacy expert in order to protect yourself. Even if you exercised all your rights perfectly, it still wouldn’t be enough to keep your information secure.

The best thing for consumers is to change how companies can collect and use data in the first place. It should be on companies to limit their data collection to only the data they need to deliver the service you’re expecting to get up front. There’s no good reason for your fast food loyalty app to be collecting your location 24/7 or your VR game app to be collecting your social security number

Companies should also be limited to only using the data they collect for what the consumer is expecting. There’s no good reason for your health app to turn around and sell your prescription information to advertisers or your child’s internet-enabled stuffed animal to be sending transcripts of your child’s conversations to third parties. 

This is a big deal. The more data that companies collect, and the more companies they sell it to, the more likely it is that your personal information is going to be exposed in a breach or a hack and end up in the wrong hands. This makes it more likely you’ll be the victim of identity theft, financial fraud and hyper-targeted scams. 

It’s absurd we haven’t stopped companies treating our data like a commodity. States can lead the way in amending the laws they’ve already passed to do more to protect consumers.

In 2023, Texas took a step in the right direction by passing a data broker registry law. This requires all data brokers selling the data of Texans to register with the state. It paves the way for the next great step – setting up a one-button push deletion mechanism to tell all of those data brokers in one go to delete your data.

What else can I do to protect my data?

If you want to ensure that your data is as protected as possible, there are other steps you can take besides relying on your Texas data rights. We’ve got more simple ways you can boost your data security here.

See below for even more tips to put you more in control of your information online.

Topics
Authors

Phoebe Normandia

Intern, Don't Sell My Data

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, predatory auto lending and consumer debt. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder.

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