In this issue
CDT in Action
For more information about CDT, or to receive CDT's Tech Policy Download, click here.
Irony, kismet... happenstance? Call it what you will, but the juxtaposition of a federal consumer privacy bill being floated on Capitol Hill while social media networking users are publicly venting frustration over yet-more-changes to privacy policies, can't be ignored. Meanwhile, yet another blue-ribbon panel comes to the conclusion that education and parent controls trump censorship every time.
In recent weeks, Congressmen Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) have been circulating a draft consumer privacy bill. This draft bill deserves serious attention, because the lawmakers are chairman and ranking member of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over communications, technology and the Internet.
Their challenge is to define standards that will protect consumers from inappropriate collection and misuse of their data without interfering with innovation. CDT's analysis of the bill concludes it would take an important step by providing a uniform set of rules for both online and offline data, but it omits some key privacy principles and could be rapidly outdated.
In particular, the bill relies too heavily on notice and choice mechanisms, which CDT and other privacy advocates believe are inadequate in today's complex data environment. Instead, we recommend that the draft be expanded to include all elements of the comprehensive framework known as Fair Information Practices (FIPs). We also noted that some highly prescriptive mandates in the draft bill could inadvertently "freeze" today's practices into law and discourage innovation. We recommended providing regulatory flexibility to accommodate different business models and technologies.
CDT has long argued that the best way to protect children online is not by censorship but by education and parental controls. The latest study to confirm the effectiveness of education over governmental restrictions was released last week by the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, a Congressionally chartered, multi-stakeholder body. CDT's John Morris served on the panel. The report recommends that, rather than attempting to ban social networking sites or taking more radical steps such as banning the Internet from the classroom, schools should incorporate digital media literacy into children's lessons from pre-kindergarten onwards. The report is a gratifying shift away from the "fear-based approach" to Internet safety - which only scared parents and gave children no resources to respond to unsafe situations - toward an emphasis on the positive role that the Internet can play in children's lives.
David Sohn writes about rumblings on Capitol Hill about updating the Communications Act. It's "a timely step" says, Sohn, as many facets of today's digital communications landscape are in play.
|If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe|
Center for Democracy & Technology
1634 I St.
Washington, District of Columbia 20006
Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.