April 12, 2011

Online privacy bill could reach far beyond the internet

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

Senators Kerry and McCain are expected to introduce legislation today that would create a Privacy Bill of Rights for consumers, but such a law could have serious consequences.  Thierer says that beyond resulting in online pay walls, subscriptions, or tiered services, new privacy rules could affect the global competitiveness of online firms.

America's refusal to follow the direction the European Union has charted with its "data directives" and more stringent privacy controls might help explain why so many U.S. online firms are leaders in the global digital marketplace.

Even without this legislation, consumers already have the option to use privacy tools.

The most-downloaded add-on for both the Firefox and Chrome Web browsers is AdBlock Plus, which blocks ads and data collection.  A host of other available tools block or limit various types of data collection, and every major browser has privacy control tools and anonymous surfing modes to help users limit data flows.

For more from Thierer, check out The Technology Liberation Front.