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Opponents Say McCain-Kerry Bill Would Limit the Internet

A better approach: "Hands off the Internet"

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A new privacy bill introduced earlier this week has a lot of people talking. The bipartisan proposal introduced by Senators McCain and Kerry would create the nation’s first comprehensive privacy law.

Does America need a federal privacy law? Share your thoughts.

Advocates of the bill say it would enforce protection for consumers’ digital data and would also limit how large companies collect and utilize information. Those who oppose it believe that it would have a negative impact on the future development of the Web.

“The reality is, I don’t think we’ve yet determined that there is a clear market failure or harm that needs to be addressed through preemptive, prophylactic forms of regulation such as the McCain/Kerry bill,” said Adam Thierer.

Thierer is a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He believes that a “hands off the Internet” policy is a better approach for the Web.

Up to this point, the U.S. has relied on a model that lets users work out problems in the marketplace through experimentation. Other countries, however, have extensive privacy regulations that govern their information flow.

Thierer, and others that oppose the bill, believe it would create an “information control regime.” He also pointed out that there are tools already available that ensure for the same privacy measures that the bill would enforce on a federal level.

“An important thing that’s often overlooked in this debate is how few people actually really care enough to actually do these sorts of things… that’s not a market failure, it’s just a choice consumers have made,” he said.

Supporters of this “privacy bill of rights,” as this bill is being called, believe it should include a measure that stops companies from tracking online actions. Incidentally, Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced the Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011, which specifically covers online data collection.

Just as opponents to the “Do Not Track” bill believed that it would harm the online advertising industry, opponents to the McCain/Kerry bill believe it would have a similar impact. Many of the free services that consumers use daily are possible because of online advertising. If advertising were limited, companies would likely have to charge for services such as email and social networks.

“What is it that powers the Internet? It’s information and advertising,” said Thierer.

One further issue that opponents bring up is the fact that this bill could lead to more regulation for the Internet.

“Where we begin with certain types of rules and regulations is not where we always end,” he added.

Interestingly, Microsoft, eBay, HP, and Intel have all voiced approval for the bill. What’s even more intriguing is that Google and Facebook, who are both mega influencers, did not join this tech group of supporters.

Do you believe in a “hands off the Internet” approach, or do you think the McCain/Kerry privacy law would be beneficial?

Opponents Say McCain-Kerry Bill Would Limit the Internet
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  • Stupidscript

    “If advertising were limited, companies would likely have to charge for services such as email and social networks.”

    I hear that a lot from people who make their living online.

    It’s not true.

    For a few decades, the Internet was commercial-free and it developed quite nicely, albeit more slowly than it does, now. In the rush to make money, a lot of practices have taken hold that need to be adjusted.

    Anything that automatically slurps user information for the purposes of marketing is simply not ethical. Protesting that one needs to engage in such activity indicates a lack of creativity.

    My Dad was a salesman from way back, and he didn’t need to slurp anyone’s personal information to do his work. Sales are NOT dependent on a trove of personal data. Access to that trove gives the illusion that you understand your target market, but there are many tried and true methods for gaining real insight into your market and exploiting it.

    There is simply no need to slurp. Privacy needs to be respected.

  • SOS

    What we need is limit the time these companies can hold our data. Let’s say 60 days. After that they have to delete every trace of it.

  • http://www.homebiz4less.com Rose

    I think the government is trying to regulate everything now.The Internet should be left alone. Like the other user said make them delete the data after 60 days.The government seems to always regulate the wrong things.

    • http://webhostingreview.info/joomla-hosting/ smith

      yup govt gonna regulate everything now

    • Stupidscript

      Quick question for you anti-”government regulation” folks:

      Who tells them to delete the data after 60 days? Right: The Government.

      Who enforces that regulation? Right: The Government.

      In fact, what you describe is the DEFINITION of “government regulation” … so … what you REALLY want is MORE government regulation, right?

      For the record, I think the government SHOULD regulate many things, including this thing. After all, that is ANY government’s primary reason to exist.

  • http://www.priosoft.com contractorsoft

    All I know is that when a law goes into effect it never gets eliminated. We have no idea of the ultimate direction of the internet for merchants, advertisers, schools, etc.. Now is not the tie to place limits on the direction and growth potential of the internet.

  • http://adscendmedia.com Jeremy

    As the article says, most people simply don’t care. If you do, you can stop giving out your personal info to everyone under the sun, turn off or limit cookies, turn off Javascript, hide behind a proxy or a throw-away email address, and on and on. The options are there, but as we’ve seen with social media sites in particular, many people gladly post private information into the public realm.

  • Johnothan Rears

    I am in agreement with the concerns here. The government has not really done much of a good job in many regulations. I agree with the idea or concept of protecting privacy, especially with the rise in identity theft these days. I am certain something will happen in this area though. Our main problem today is that in the interest of safety, we become slaves. You cannot truly have safety as most perceive safety without sacrificing freedom. Sometimes this may be needed, however, most it is not. I prefer to handle these things myself or with assistance from others like myself. I can see benefits for either side of this issue as well as the detriments. Hopefully we will create a solution that works for both sides without totally compromising the values of them.

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