I had a long talk with the president last week (yes, that president) about how my readers were clamoring for something like an Internet privacy bill of rights so that they could tell those nosy online advertising companies to piss off. What do you know? Thursday morning, the White House called on Congress and the high-tech industry to enact a consumer privacy bill of rights.
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, readers, for suggesting it.
All we need now is for the industry to agree on what those rights really entail and for Congress to pass legislation empowering the FTC to enforce those rights. That shouldn’t take more than, oh, 30 or 40 years — maybe 25 with a strong tailwind.
Today’s big privacy declaration got here at the heels of controversies surrounding Google’s bypassing the no-tracking settings in Safari, the callous put out of your mind lots of companies have for internet Explorer’s privateness personal tastes platform, and cellular apps that suck up your entire private contacts and store them at their servers with out telling you. additionally, in a few days Google will start converging all of the knowledge it has approximately you — your Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, doctors, Plus, what have you ever — into one large satisfied pile of juicy advert-friendly data. It’s no marvel other people have their knickers in knots over privateness.
Cringester P. M., an intellectual property attorney who carries an Android phone, is worried what Google will do with all of the data it is syncing from his phone on March 1, the day of the Great Data Merge.
As a lawyer, I am required by my license to keep all my client stuff confidential, including their phone numbers and email addresses — some private that they give me because they trust me. Google has said starting 3/1 they will be Hooveringeverything and there is not s**t I can do about it. What they will not say — and I cannot, despite many emails to all kinds of Google people, even get a BS answer — is whether they will use my Android or synchronized on the Web data to open channels to my clients for targeted ads. (All they claim is they will not sell, but of course they will not sell if they can sell use of the targeting channel over and over!)
I don’t discuss for Google, however this sounds means beyond the light even for the hunt behemoth. Will Google use your gathered information to figure out who you might be so it could send you annoying advertisements with higher precision? absolutely. Will Google use your address e book to send tense advertisements to your friends with larger precision? That seems not going, especially for the reason that Google is now in the crosshairs of the FTC. still, it’s a question price asking.
In a recent post, I suggested it’s time to regulate Facebook and asked whether we needed a national privacy law, lest our Web surfing habits end up costing us jobs or insurance or worse. The answer? A resounding yes. Reader J. M. writes:
It may or may not take a long time to percolate but in the end it’s going to be a freedom of speech issue. Even though big brother in this case may be private enterprise, if we cannot read different points of view or research information without suffering economic penalties and injustices of dignity and political labeling, we have allowed ourselves a great loss of freedom. That’s not the American way.
Today’s statement in fact is most commonly politics. The White house took a stance that appears to be taking a look out for customers at the same time as no longer angering the top-tech industry that heavily supports it, understanding Congress will most probably do nothing. nonetheless, that’s better than a permit the market make a decision tactic, which is actually no stance in any respect.
I’ll believe our government is serious about ensuring our privacy when it enacts serious penalties for companies that abuse our data instead of just issuing a wrist slap. As baseball-loving Cringe fan C. D. notes, All the privacy laws in the world don’t amount to much if nothing happens to the violators.
Privacy laws are good. Privacy laws with teeth are better.