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Today Governor Jared Polis signed into law a bill that expands broadband access in unserved and underserved communities, and another crafted to protect Coloradans’ data privacy from big data corporations that sell that information for profit. It would be progress if these bills had local impact, but that remains to be seen.

Mears Engineering, on behalf of Mt. Princeton, began plowing in broadband along CR 162 between U.S. 285 and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort, as evidenced in this Oct. 22, 2020 photo.

HB21-1109, sponsored by Senator Jeff Bridges, seeks to extend broadband services to critically unserved and underserved communities in the state in Colorado and ensure that everyone can get connected to the internet. This bill adds a new definition of “critically unserved” to better categorize the needs of Coloradans that don’t have adequate broadband connections.

“The world has become increasingly digitized, especially over the last year. From school to work to telehealth, easy access to broadband is absolutely fundamental to modern life. But there are still countless communities in Colorado that lack fast, affordable, and reliable internet,” said Senator Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village). “Connecting underserved residents to this essential utility will not only strengthen statewide equity but boost prosperity as well.”

The bill also requires the Broadband Deployment Board to ensure limited state dollars for broadband investments are targeted to areas of Colorado that lack access in a timely and efficient manner.

This need is especially important in rural counties and areas where what is referred to as the “last mile” connection is lacking.

The lack of reliable broadband is one of the major issues for Chaffee County, experienced both by existing retail businesses, entrepreneurs, and those moving here to telecommute. When the pandemic shut down schools, the lack of reliable broadband was a major issue for the county’s school districts, with teachers and students struggling to connect for classroom instruction.

Image courtesy of USGS.Gov

SB21-190, has been called a “first in the nation” bill that seeks to protect Coloradans’ private information that big data companies currently use for profit without consumers’ knowledge. There has been a lack of control over large tech companies who mine our increasingly digital personal data for profit.

The lack of regulation around large tech companies has resulted in the monopolization and control of Coloradans’ data that these entities use for profit, without passing down any of the benefits to the consumer. To help reign in this power, it is imperative that we return rights to consumers.

Sponsored by Senator Robert Rodriguez (D-Denver), it applies to legal entities that conduct business or produce commercial products or services that are intentionally targeted to Colorado residents and that either:

  • Control or process personal data of more than 100,000 consumers per calendar year; or
  • Derive revenue from the sale of personal data and control or process the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers. It does not apply to certain specified entities, personal data governed by listed state and federal laws, listed activities, and employment records.

The bill highlights this little-known fact: consumers have the right to opt-out of the processing of their personal data; access, correct, or delete the data; or obtain a portable copy of the data.

The bill defines a “controller” as a person that, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of processing personal data. A “processor” means a person that processes personal data on behalf of a controller

“Coloradans deserve to have control over how their private data is used,” said Rodriguez. “This law will shift power back to consumers by ensuring that they are in full control over whether a company can use their personal information or not. It can also serve as a model for other states to emulate, as many legislators from around the country have begun reaching out to me on how their states can implement something similar.”

The legislation provides consumers with the right to opt-out of their personal data being processed, as well as the right to access, correct, delete, or obtain their personal data from various entities in Colorado that utilize and profit off of their data.