heading to FTC’s next “Exploring Privacy” workshop at Berkeley Law School

by on January 27, 2010 · 5 comments

Berin Szoka and I will be in Berkeley, CA tomorrow attending the FTC’s 2nd “Exploring Privacy” roundtable event. The event will take place at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.  Here’s the agenda and speaker bios. The event will be webcast for those who cannot make it.  But for those of you who going, make sure to come say hi to Berin and me.  We were thinking about trying to get a group together afterward to grab a beer somewhere nearby.

Incidentally, Berin and I testified at the FTC’s first Exploring Privacy workshop, which took place on December 7th. You can find webcasts of the panels here, and here are Berin’s comments and my summary of what we had to say that day.

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    The FTC intro to this event is: “The Federal Trade Commission will host a series of day-long public roundtable discussions to explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data.”. Berin wrote, concerning the December 2009 workshop that: “The “Privacy Wars” that have waged over how government should regulate online collection and use of data might better be referred to as the “Privacy Proxy Wars” because the most clearly demonstrated “harm” at issue seems to be from government itself, not the private sector. “ (emphasis added).

    What I am leading up to is that the public angst over this issue has caught the interest of regulators because of consumer dissatisfaction. Whether this dissatisfaction is warranted or not, it exists and implies a broken system.

    The response to solving this “broken” system is admonishing that government regulation will be bad. In fact, regulation is viewed as somehow diminishing consumer choice. Maybe it will be bad, but what is troubling is the lack of analysis of why this issue has risen to a level that has attracted potential government regulation. This issue, is of concern since the private sector has little respect for a person's privacy and treats a person's private data as their data that can be bought/traded/sold/rented as a commodity.

    Berin, in his December comments has a section titled: “A Principled Pro-Consumer Alternative to Further Regulation”. What is essentially missing from this this analysis is an acknowledgment that the private sector has “abused” its freedoms and that this can be “corrected” by the private sector exhibiting some degree of self control. Sure, Berin briefly mentions “Enhance self-regulation by industry sectors and companies to integrate with user education and empowerment.”. But it is also followed up by the proverbial “Importantly, those tools and methods would give them the ability to block the things they don’t like—annoying ads or the collection of data about them, as well as objectionable content.”

    This raises the legitimate question of why should it always be the consumer who has to protect themselves? If a person does not want to receive an annoying add, the company can respect the consumers opt-out and not send it. The consumer should not have to buy or otherwise acquire “defensive” software. If we live in a civilized society and accept that one is responsible for one's actions; it seems logical that the private sector must display a degree of self-control. In fact Berin writes “The Fourth Amendment guarantees that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” “. If the government is obligated by this standard, how about the private sector complying with this standard???????????

  • http://www.facebook.com/RichardBennett.Cal Richard Bennett

    I think I'll drop by for the afternoon sessions, so I'll see y'all there.

  • http://www.lv-cheap.com/ louisvuittonoutlet

    a good idea

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    The FTC intro to this event is: “The Federal Trade Commission will host a series of day-long public roundtable discussions to explore the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data.”. Berin wrote, concerning the December 2009 workshop that: “The “Privacy Wars” that have waged over how government should regulate online collection and use of data might better be referred to as the “Privacy Proxy Wars” because the most clearly demonstrated “harm” at issue seems to be from government itself, not the private sector. “(emphasis added).

    What I am leading up to is that the public angst over this issue has caught the interest of regulators because of consumer dissatisfaction. Whether this dissatisfaction is warranted or not, it exists and implies a broken system.

    The response to solving this “broken” system is admonishing that government regulation will be bad. In fact, regulation is viewed as somehow diminishing consumer choice. Maybe it will be bad, but what is troubling is the lack of analysis of why this issue has risen to a level that has attracted potential government regulation. This issue, is of concern since the private sector has little respect for a person's privacy and treats a person's private data as their data that can be bought/traded/sold/rented as a commodity.

    Berin, in his December comments has a section titled: “A Principled Pro-Consumer Alternative to Further Regulation”. What is essentially missing from this this analysis is an acknowledgment that the private sector has “abused” its freedoms and that this can be “corrected” by the private sector exhibiting some degree of self control. Sure, Berin briefly mentions “Enhance self-regulation by industry sectors and companies to integrate with user education and empowerment.”. But it is also followed up by the proverbial “Importantly, those tools and methods would give them the ability to block the things they don’t like—annoying ads or the collection of data about them, as well as objectionable content.”

    This raises the legitimate question of why should it always be the consumer who has to protect themselves? If a person does not want to receive an annoying add, the company can respect the consumers opt-out and not send it. The consumer should not have to buy or otherwise acquire “defensive” software. If we live in a civilized society and accept that one is responsible for one's actions; it seems logical that the private sector must display a degree of self-control. In fact Berin writes “The Fourth Amendment guarantees that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” “. If the government is obligated by this standard, how about the private sector complying with this standard???????????

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I think I'll drop by for the afternoon sessions, so I'll see y'all there.

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