Our old friend Declan McCullagh, the dean of high-tech policy journalists, has just posted an excellent column outlining his concerns with the “Do Not Track List” notion that Harper and I blasted yesterday. As usual, Declan says it better than any of us can regarding why this is such a silly and dangerous regulatory proposal:
Nobody’s holding a gun to Internet users’ heads and forcing them to visit Amazon or Yahoo. They do it because they trust those companies to take reasonable steps to protect their privacy. To insist that the feds must step in because a few vocal lobbyists and activists don’t like those steps should be insulting to Americans: it suggests that they’re too simpleminded to make their own decisions about what’s best for them and their families. (It’s similar in principle to price regulation, when special-interest lobbyists insist that prices are too high or too low and must be altered by legislative fiat.) What makes this an even sillier debate is that there already are a wealth of ways to accomplish “Do Not Track” without the feds. This is the third principle of Internet regulation: If technology exists to solve a perceived problem, it’s probably better to encourage its use rather than ask federal agencies for more regulations or demand that the techno half-wits in Congress draft a new law.
Amen, brother. He continues: