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More on Internet Privacy Legislation 135

Last week we noted that Senator Hollings had introduced a privacy bill and that there were likely to be more introduced. Now Salon has a piece critical of Hollings' bill. EPIC wrote about it as well, and they seem to think it's not too bad, all things considered. Read Hollings' bill yourself and decide who's right. Also of note is a bill introduced in the House that would require all Federal agencies to prepare privacy impact statements (the ACLU has a summary) akin to the environmental impact statements now required for actions adversely affecting the environment. Seems like a good idea to me.
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More on Internet Privacy Legislation

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  • by CyberLife ( 63954 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:04PM (#3417738)
    My only problem with this is that the decision of what to make opt-in and opt-out is truely subjective. One person might consider their purchase history to be sensitive data, while another might think their medical history is not.

    I know it's not a cut and dried issue, but I still feel that complete opt-in is the best way.

  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:07PM (#3417758) Journal

    My biggest problem with the bill is that it will further enhance the corporatization of the web. Imagine if slashdot had to comply with these rules when it first started out. The access rules alone would be a nightmare (imagine sorting through gigs and gigs of server logs to find all the instances of one person's IP address, printing them out, and mailing them, all for $3). Add the cost of defending litigation, and hiring lawyers just to ensure compliance, and quite simply, slashdot would not have existed.

    It would be kind of neat to be able to request from companies all the information they have about me, but this is something that should be optional, not mandatory. The government should set up a certification program, similar to truste, and offer it to those who have the resources to comply. Then the user can decide for him/herself whether they want to go to a certified site or not.

  • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:18PM (#3417847) Homepage Journal
    I just don't get it. I may be asking to get modded down for saying this on slashdot, but it's worth a shot.

    I mean, we geeks are virtually (heck, actually!) the only people in the world who appreciate privacy. Obviously, the smarter, more connected, more civilized one is, etc., the more use one gets out of privacy.

    Now I understand that the senator in question does not have what we would call a good "track record" with respect to the individual Rights that make this country good (let's face it, he's a stinker). But when it comes right down to it, I'm inclined to call a spade a spade, and not look a gift horse in the mouth.

    IANAL but, IIRC, support of this bill or legislation or what have you does not lock us in to future or past legislation, though they may all be by the same guy! Yes, in the past I would have been in favor of opposing him and not reelecting him, but the fact is, if it walks like a duck...

    I say, support Privacy, support this Bill and the Constitution. To the Death, as our forefathers would have.

    We will send him, and all others like him, a powerful message: shape up or ship out. But the key is, we are giving him the option to make good on his pledge to the People. And second chances, my friends, is what America is all about.

  • by Ibag ( 101144 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:19PM (#3417855)
    One reason I dislike the bill is because I am not sure what they really mean by robust notice. If the salon article is right, the small bit they had in the kazaa liscense about BDE could count as robust notice.

    Another reason I dislike the bill is because it requires opt-out. While this is better than nothing being required, it is easy to hide the option to opt out or to put the access to the option to opt out somewhere you can't access till you have allready registered. I don't want anybody selling my personal information before they've even given me a chance to opt out.

    With those two thing, the bill unsettles me. Why can't it require things to be opt in? If a website had something clear that said "If you give us consent to collect and sell your personal information, check this box" I would have no qualms. In that case, you know both that the user does consent and that if you do not consent, then you won't be shafted.

    While stuff like this should be regulated, it should not be under these terms.
  • by sam_handelman ( 519767 ) <skh2003@columbia. e d u> on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:28PM (#3417910) Homepage Journal
    Sen. Hollings (likewise his secret masters at Disney) may not be my favorite legislator, and he may sponsor a lot of bills which I do not like, but this is a good law. The things that Salon complains about the bill "legitimising" are already 100% legal, unfortunately. While the bill is too weak, I will say this: it is not true that weak provisions make stronger provisions unlikely by assuaging the fears of the sheep-like masses, instead, they shift the social pendulum to make stronger measures more feasible in the future. I support half-measures 100% - yes, this makes me a liberal.

    Now that Sen. Hollings has sponsored a piece of good legislation - I'm not a lawyer but I trust EPIC to know totally fake privacy legislation when they see it - he deserves credit for doing the right thing, not continued vilification for the mistakes he's made in the past. Classifying him (or Disney, for that matter) as our Eternal Foe just because he (foolishly, ignorantly) sought to curtail our rights on one occasion is not the way to go. I, personally, know a lot of fine, upstanding people who work in the Movies (none actually at Disney, but hey, if Pat Robertson hate them that much they can't be all bad), some of whom even supported the CBDTPA, and lumping them in with Hitler as people with whom any dialogue is "appeasement" is neither productive nor justified.

    So, Kudos to the H-man. Keep it up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2002 @03:45PM (#3418032) should be treated as property...

    Huh? You argue against the DMCA, but it is arguments like the one above that are used to support the DMCA and similar efforts at censorship. There have to be better ways to protect privacy than "intellectual property" arguments.
  • by jonathanjo ( 415010 ) <> on Friday April 26, 2002 @04:22PM (#3418303) Homepage
    Huh? You argue against the DMCA, but it is arguments like the one above that are used to support the DMCA and similar efforts at censorship. There have to be better ways to protect privacy than "intellectual property" arguments.

    You misunderstand, good Coward. I think it may be possible and indeed possibly even desirable to define all personal identifying information about a person as properly belonging under that person's control, in a similar fashion that we consider a person's property to be under their control. Hollywood wants us to see creative works as "intellectual property", and they are wrong. But perhaps a property metaphor may prove useful as we attempt to navigate a way of allowing individuals control over who knows what about them.

  • Federal Preemption (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @04:23PM (#3418316) Homepage
    I wonder if this bill will preempt the state's rights to pass stronder bills. If so this could, in the long run, resuilt in less privacy. Right now many of your local legislators are writing very strong privacy protectin bills, but a federal bill will at the least put the breaks on state efforts and at the worst over ride state laws with weaker federal protection. This bill may be better than we have now, but any holes in it could give away your privacy for a very long time. I wonder how the marketoids feel about this bill?

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin