My Senate Testimony on Privacy, Data Collection & Do Not Track

by on April 24, 2013 · 3 comments

Today I’ll be testifying at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on online privacy and commercial data collection issues. In my remarks, I make three primary points:

  1. First, no matter how well-intentioned, restrictions on data collection could negatively impact the competitiveness of America’s digital economy, as well as consumer choice.
  2. Second, it is unwise to place too much faith in any single, silver-bullet solution to privacy, including “Do Not Track,” because such schemes are easily evaded or defeated and often fail to live up to their billing.
  3. Finally, with those two points in mind, we should look to alternative and less costly approaches to protecting privacy that rely on education, empowerment, and targeted enforcement of existing laws. Serious and lasting long-term privacy protection requires a layered, multifaceted approach incorporating many solutions.

The testimony also contains 4 appendices elaborating on some of these themes.

Down below, I’ve embedded my testimony, a list of 10 recent essays I’ve penned on these topics, and a video in which I explain “How I Think about Privacy” (which was taped last summer at an event up at the University of Maine’s Center for Law and Innovation). Finally, the best summary of my work on these issues can be found in this recent Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article, “The Pursuit of Privacy in a World Where Information Control is Failing.” (This is the first of two complimentary law review articles I will be releasing this year dealing with privacy policy. The second, which will be published early this summer by the George Mason University Law Review, is entitled, “A Framework for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Digital Privacy Debates.”)

Testimony of Adam D. Thierer before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation hearing…

Some of My Recent Essays on Privacy & Data Collection

  1. A Better, Simpler Narrative for U.S. Privacy Policy – March 19, 2013
  2. On the Pursuit of Happiness… and Privacy – March 31, 2013 (condensed from Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article, “The Pursuit of Privacy in a World Where Information Control is Failing”)
  3. Isn’t “Do Not Track” Just a “Broadcast Flag” Mandate for Privacy? – Feb. 20, 2011
  4. Two Paradoxes of Privacy Regulation – Aug. 25, 2010
  5. Privacy as an Information Control Regime: The Challenges Ahead – Nov. 13, 2010
  6. When It Comes to Information Control, Everybody Has a Pet Issue & Everyone Will Be Disappointed – Apr. 29, 2011
  7. Lessons from the Gmail Privacy Scare of 2004 – March 25, 2011
  8. Who Really Believes in “Permissionless Innovation”? – March 4, 2013 (condensed from Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology law review article, “Technopanics, Threat Inflation, and the Danger of an Information Technology Precautionary Principle”)
  9. The Problem of Proportionality in Debates about Online Privacy and Child Safety – Nov. 28, 2009
  10. Obama Admin’s “Let’s-Be-Europe” Approach to Privacy Will Undermine U.S. Competitiveness– Jan. 5, 2011

  • Josh

    I want to start of by saying that I admire your conviction. I personally care about a great many things, but would find it difficult and nerveracking to testify in front of the senate about them. I agree with the points that you’ve made, especially in regards to the need for education. The growing concern within the government about computer technologies and their focus on single solutions illustrate a growing age and education based digital divide. They just don’t seem to fully understand (or even comprehend) what these new technologies are capable of. While a great many technologies are billed as a means of preventing privacy invasions you are right in that they don’t always live up to expectations. Education consistently promotes understanding and it will need to happen if we want to both protect the privacy of others and teach policy makers to make more well informed decisions.

  • Pingback: Do Not Track, Silver Bullets, and Long-Term Privacy Protection « Internet Freedom Coalition

  • Pingback: My Senate Testimony on Privacy, Data Collection & Do Not Track | Adam Thierer | Backfill for 'Note to Self'

Previous post:

Next post: