Click Confidential: A Privacy Primer for the Social Web

Click Confidential: A Privacy Primer for the Social Web, authored by Daniel Ballon, Ph.D., PRI senior fellow in technology studies, outlines the detrimental affects of government regulated privacy policy on emerging online businesses. He also provides effective strategies for empowering consumers while promoting choice and competition.

Dr. Ballon writes, “The Internet landscape is rapidly changing, and regulators cannot predict which technologies will most appeal to consumers. Creating a patchwork of technology specific rules will distort the market, increase the power of special interests, generate confusion, and reduce choices.”

“This report is particularly timely given the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Consumer Protection Subcommittees’ hearing to consider whether new laws are necessary to regulate the flow of information in the information age,” Dr. Ballon said. “We think this report is an excellent resource for lawmakers, staffers, and every consumer concerned about privacy on the Internet.”

Click Confidential shows that government regulation of e-commerce and online activity not only threatens the growth and development of a $300 billion industry (2.1 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product), but also poses a serious threat to privacy from the government regulator itself. Dr. Ballon recommends:

  1. Congress should improve government’s handling of personal information and affirm that constitutional protections apply to an individual’s file regardless of physical location
  2. Regulating Internet interstate commerce should fall outside the authority of individual states
  3. Laws must be clarified to confirm the enforceability of privacy policies
  4. Online privacy policies should be streamlined to enhance transparency and facilitate comparisons between competing products.

“The government has long resisted opportunities to regulate the Internet,” said Dr. Ballon. “Interfering with such a dynamic platform could needlessly sabotage one of the nation’s most powerful engines for economic growth.”

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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