Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights

February 23, 2012 by staff 

Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights, The White House is making a big deal over its introduction of a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights concerning corporation’s use of personal data. Unlike Europe, where there are a bunch of privacy protection laws, the US has gotten by without such laws for the most part.

 I can certainly understand the desire for a bill of rights like this — and like many, I’m creeped out about how some sites make use of my data (especially in that uncanny valley of targeted advertising) — but I’m not so creeped out that I think a law is the answer. In fact, a few things about this plan leave me concerned.

Privacy rights is one of those things that seems like a good idea, but seems very difficult to actually implement effectively, without either stifling useful services that really aren’t creepy or troublesome, or just creating a set of plans so meaningless as to be a waste of time. For example, we’ve long argued that privacy policies are pointless, but these days for many sites, it’s required that you have one.

This is one of those ideas that sounds good: of course a site should have a privacy policy! Except… no one reads these privacy policies, and most people (incorrectly) assume that if a site has a privacy policy, it means their information is private. But that’s not necessarily the case. You could have a “privacy policy” that says “we widely share all your info and we mock you at the same time!” and as long as the company does just that, it’s likely still a legit privacy policy.

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