posted Sep 19, 2000

Regulating Privacy: At What Cost? Privacy from Companies9/19/2000; 11:41:52 AM 'Privacy advocates who successfully transformed such previously arcane matters as credit bureau databases and DoubleClick cookies into mainstream concerns are close to winning a truly epic battle. 'After years of agitating by liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, both Democrats and Republicans are suddenly expressing their support for sweeping new regulations of U.S. businesses.'Yet schemes like a federal privacy commission -- suggested this year by a bipartisan duo in Congress -- don't exactly cheer free-market organizations, which have been largely silent in this debate so far.'Wow... who will have the unenviable job of standing up in front of Congress and in front of a national audience, declare with a straight face that Americans should not have privacy? There's only one ploy that might work... But the children! Won't somebody pleazze think of the children!The biggest counterargument is from those who believe that the government can't be trusted to protect privacy, as they are one of the largest violators themselves. That's true, but who else can do it? The market has failed. Why would it even bother trying? The natural state of things is that there is benefit in invading the consumer's privacy, and while attempts to monetize personal data (like Zimtu) excites me, I have to admit it probably won't work, as it's fighting to restructure an entire entrenched economy. "Consumer demand", the magic that is supposed to right this wrong, will simply result in better hiding of the collection process, because it's just too darned valuable to give up.This is like breaking up a monopoly; only the government has the power to do it, so for better or for worse, if we want to improve things, we must allow it to try.


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