As the Internet continues to change quickly, answers to privacy is struggling to keep up. Who can forget some of the more memorable privacy and piracy issues of the last year concerning Government? Including:
• Potential employers asking for Facebook passwords of interviewees
• The uproar over SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act)
• The concern over Facebook’s continued actions related to privacy
While most businesses and the Government both agree that something should be enacted to spell out on-line privacy rights, neither one can seem to agree on what those measures should be. First of all, the Government and businesses disagree over whether government even needs to take a more active approach to protecting consumers’ online privacy.
Businesses mostly feel that privacy laws should apply to information, not necessarily technology. For instance, the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) Executive Director Morgan Reed told a government panel last week that any government rules should apply to the way that information is used, not to the technology that collects data. New rules are also needed to provide companies and consumers with more regulatory certainty.
CEO Chris Babel of website privacy certification company TRUSTe testified that privacy protection should focus on companies’ self-regulatory efforts. “Self-regulation provides a flexible privacy-protection framework that can quickly adapt to rapidly evolving technologies,” he said.
The Government, however, seems to be doubtful about self-regulation, stating that they don’t feel businesses could objectively regulate themselves. The White House, however, doesn’t seem to be questioning whether Government needs to be involved, as it is moving forward with a plan for an online bill of rights on privacy.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet has been studying how mobile devices and other technologies are changing the privacy landscape. This underlies the fact that with the speed that technology changes, even if the Government inserts itself into on-line privacy, the legislation might be outdated before it even comes into practice.
The Commerce Department though is pressing onward. In February, it released a report that called for action on privacy regardless of whether Congress moves forward with protections of its own. Next month, the administration will begin developing an online privacy bill of rights through a meeting to consider privacy for mobile apps.
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