FTC Privacy Report Public Commentary

Protecting internet user privacy is becoming a hot topic among users on our side of the screen as well as backend providers and program developers. It’s been noted that people should have more control over their information use on places like Facebook. Some say that the service is provided free, so use of our information should be up to the owners. Others note that we pay to use services like FB because companies sell our data. Without users, online social networking sites would have no reason to exist.

The FTC released a report called “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change”. Adam Thierer at George Mason University has put together a 29 page paper of commentary about the report. I’ve (hopefully) embedded it here in the post for your skimming pleasure.

These days, information is the fastest growing form of currency in the world. So, how do we as consumers keep power in our hands while we use the Net? Where do we draw the line about giving out information? To who? And if we’re moving in a direction where users on our end of the computer are going to be paid for our data, then who decides what data is valuable and what isn’t?

Will payment for data end up replicating the offline social striations we already have? Will, for example, data received from white heterosexual males be perceived by big companies as being worth more money than data from women of color or disabled people? On my end, I’m not sure that companies ae truly far enough along in listening to a full range of voices to pay for data responsibly. Not in a way that honors difference among users.

Anyway, enjoy the paper. Let me know what you think!

Privacy Paper