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Government Privacy Facebook Social Networks The Internet United States Your Rights Online

On Several Fronts, US Gov't Prepares To Regulate Online Privacy 123

Posted by timothy
from the learn-from-the-experts dept.
storagedude writes "There are at least five US government efforts underway to regulate data and online privacy, according to a new US government internet policy official, who sees some kind of privacy regulation as likely. Ari Schwartz, who left the Center for Democracy and Technology two months ago to become senior internet policy advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, says issues like Facebook's never-ending privacy concerns are making some kind of a national law or regulation more and more likely. He thinks segregating identity from data isn't enough; the data must then be aggregated after identity is stripped out. He also called for objective measures of privacy compliance."
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On Several Fronts, US Gov't Prepares To Regulate Online Privacy

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  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:57PM (#33981852)

    The EU and the Brits figured this out long ago. The British data protection act is a model of privacy protection that we should have emulated. But that was in the day that the world wide wibbley web was still very immature and back when moneyed interests weren't as powerful. Now there's so much inertia for data mining the web that this will never see the light of day outside any Senate or House committee.


  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:52PM (#33982148) Journal

    Don't you mean "since when did proving to the auditor that I am in complaince with 200 pages of regulations" become a burden? Have you ever done PCI compliance? Regulatory compliance is significant burden on a start up and that's the point. Established corporations love endless regulations, as that means there will never be a startup to shake up thier stone-age ways, and eventually the corps just start writing the regs themselves. This is called "regulatory capture", and it's how liberals make oligopolies happen while whining about the very evil corporations they empower.

  • Re:Stand by... (Score:2, Informative)

    by curt_k (533018) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:03PM (#33982210)
    I'm kind of amazed at the image used here -- the fox guarding the henhouse. Wouldn't that image best apply to Google assuring us they'll do no evil?

    Quite contrary to the business propaganda, Adam Smith spelled this out Way Back When: the invisible hand needs a counter to it, and that's democratic, public government. "Unless government takes pains to prevent it..." http://books.google.com/books?id=-mxKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA163&dq=unless+government+takes+some+pains+to+prevent&hl=en&ei=Ku_ATM3jE4yr8Abmio3hBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=unless%20government%20takes%20some%20pains%20to%20prevent&f=false [google.com]

    I'm likewise amazed how often people in capitalist quasi-democracies are *more* paranoid about government abusing individuals than corporations abusing individuals. I'm not saying this is black/white -- of course there are *plenty* of examples of totalitarian government -- but corporations are clearly, inarguably non-democratic. Quasi-democratic governments (such as the US) have *some* public interest and public input (the rest of their motivation and input has been bought by the investment class). Both corporations and "democratic" governments are necessary evils, but "democratic" governments are gonna be the lesser evil.
  • Re:Stand by... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbonomi (1839286) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:17PM (#33982270)

    The US government is sufficiently large that there isn't a single entity which can be called "the government". One part may well be genuinely interested in protecting privacy, while another part is doing its best to have the Fourth Amendment repealed. Schizophrenic? Oh yes.

    Hey! That's not what schizophrenic means! You should instead have said "Does the US government appear to have dissociative identity disorder? Oh yes."

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:32PM (#33982336)

    The British data protection act is a model of privacy protection that we should have emulated.

    Actually, the DPA offers fairly poor privacy protection. It doesn't require opt-in before tracking personal data, for example, nor does it give you any right to demand that personal data held about you be removed from a system as long as that data is actually correct. In fact, it doesn't really offer any privacy guarantee at all in the traditional sense; we rely more on the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights for such privacy protection as we do have.

    The real problem we have today is that in a world with massive databases, fast and cheap communications via the Internet, etc., traditional privacy standards don't actually protect the things they used to in any meaningful way. We need to consider why privacy is important, and establish social and legal norms that protect what matters, instead of trying to somehow adapt ideas that are decades out of date as if they are still going to protect individuals from abuse by larger and more powerful organisations today.

  • Re:Ownership rights (Score:2, Informative)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol . c om> on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:32AM (#33984092) Journal

    This works except for the plain view doctrine. Any information that is available in plain view, which when adapted to the context of the modern Internet include any information that you put in a publicly viewable site such as Slashdot, is free for use by anyone who can see it.

    In real terms, if you leave your house, anyone can see what color your skin is. They cannot be prohibited from communicating that information to someone else. You cannot tell someone they are not allowed to know that which they can see in plain view.

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton