Obama privacy pact is toothless, misguided

Obama's White House proposals to beef up people's privacy protection have been embraced by Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the like. But, in IT Blogwatch, bloggers aren't so sure that everything in the garden is rosy.

By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Everett Hiller gets all the A-list party guests...

    Jaikumar Vijayan reports:

In a 60-page Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights...the Obama Administration spelled out...proposals aimed at...codes of conduct for handling consumer data. ... [The] Administration will work with Congress to enact legislation [to] implement the codes.


[It] would give consumers more individual control over what personal data...companies can collect, use and share...[and] give consumers the right to access and to correct [collected] personal data. ... [P]articipation would be voluntary.   

  Sara Forden and Eric Engleman adds:

[It's] an effort that may bring the U.S. closer to European data-protection norms...includ[ing] understandable privacy policies; giving consumers control over the data collected...and handling that information securely.


Revelations about privacy breaches during [2011] have spurred calls from regulators and lawmakers...for stronger protections...online and on Internet-connected mobile devices. ... Google, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo! Inc. and AOL Inc. are among companies that have agreed to comply...to control online tracking.


The European Union announced an overhaul last month of [its] 17-year-old privacy rules that would give [member state] data protection agencies...authority to sanction companies that violate...requirements.   

     But Keith Wagstaff waxes cynical:

Internet giants...[have] happily enlisted themselves in the fight for privacy. ... It wasn’t always like this. Just last May...Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others sent out a strongly worded letter opposing a similar proposal. ... The biggest factor in the industry’s new attitude...is that this is just a policy outline...[and] Congress...isn’t likely to touch it anytime soon.


In other words, not only is it good PR...it is also an opportunity to influence lawmakers. ... This is a win-win. ... Users get an easy-to-understand opt-out option...companies like Google look good without...losing any revenue and the government ends up looking...responsible.   

And David Gewirtz calls it "misleading":

The problem is this approach completely misses the privacy violations...by the authorities [we] trust...schools...doctors ... [and] government agencies. ... We’re still subject to unreasonable and unsafe demands.


I’m far less concerned if Google knows I went to yet another muscle car web site than I am that my doctor...insists on keeping copies of my drivers’ license...along with an image of my credit card, my social security number, my...address, my...phone numbers, and my health records. ... This is where we need to be putting our attention.   

Meanwhile Patty O'Furniture says it's about time:

I agree that...something really needed to be done. We shall see if this is more than just lip service. ... I remain skeptical.   

And Finally...
Everett Hiller gets all the A-list party guests; what's his secret?
[hat tip: Rob Boudon]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch, for which he has won ASBPE and Neal awards. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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