December 20, 2010

Online regs could hurt internet usage

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

Last week, the Department of Commerce called for an online “Privacy Bill of Rights” with the intention of helping people protect their personal information on the internet.  These proposed regulations could drastically change the use of the internet.

Regulation could fundamentally alter the nature of online commerce and the future of how digital content and services are provided. Curtailing data collection and online advertising could be killing the goose that lays the Internet’s golden eggs.

There are better ways to deal with privacy concerns, including targeted use of law to enforce the policies against bad actors, and  educating and empowering users to better use tools already available to them. 

The most-downloaded add-on for both the Firefox and Chrome web browsers is AdBlock Plus, which blocks advertising on most sites.  A host of other tools are available to 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 collection.