New research from Comparitech evaluated each US state based on 20 key criterias, ranking them from least to most private.
The criteria ranges from laws that govern companies on how they use and disclose customer data to those that protect specific groups of people including children, employees and journalists.
The research revealed California to be the best US state for online privacy – with a score of 75%. It is the only state to mention an inalienable right to privacy in its state constitution. Additionally, it is the only state to enact a law protecting data obtained from the Internet of Things (IoT).
Wyoming was revealed as the worst US state for online privacy, meeting just one of the 20 key criteria.
The researchers explained: “While not all states have shield laws to protect journalists from exposing their sources, Wyoming is the only state that doesn’t even have a court precedent for doing so.”
Furthermore, in Wyoming, companies are not required to “dispose” of users’ personal data after a period of time – and employers are allowed to force their employees to hand over passwords to social media accounts.
Mississippi, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Iowa, were all ranked badly, with each of them only meeting 10% of the key criteria. With all four states, the government and companies can hold onto users’ personal data indefinitely with no consequence.
Social media profiles are not protected from employers or schools under the laws in Iowa, Idaho and Pennsylvania.
“Some aspects of online privacy are governed by the federal US government rather than state governments. Partial regulations exist, but there is no all-encompassing law regulating the collection, storage, or use of personal data in the U.S.
“The US Constitution never mentions privacy specifically and only protects against state actors, not individuals. However, the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments limit government intrusion on individuals’ right to privacy.”
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