February 23, 2012

Privacy in an Election Year

Here in the USA it is an election year. At the same time, privacy has (finally) become a hot-button issue with many. Seeing an opportunity at the intersection of those two issues, yesterday the Obama administration announced a set of online privacy principles designed to stem a problem that has made headlines with ever increasing frequency.

Alas, if it remains to be seen whether these principles will be heeded or subverted, or even if they will ever have the force of law behind them. Expecting voluntary compliance in an already ethically challenged industry seems hopeless.

At the moment, internet privacy is in its Wild West stage. As one company stoops closer to the muck, their competitors follow. Practices that were once solely associated with spammers have now been mainstreamed. While there is a lot of talk, and sporadic bursts of outrage, there is less hope for action.

What will it take to get this fixed? Moving to Europe, where privacy laws are much stricter (and about to get stricter still) is not an option for most people.