Defending data from regulation

May 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

As reported in Media Post today, there was good news for a sensible approach to the issue of online privacy courtesy of the Technology Policy Institute, which released a study that says nothing much can be gained for consumers or companies by increasing the amount of  privacy regulation online. As quoted in Media Post the study, “In Defense of Data”, said:

“Regulation should be undertaken only if a market is not functioning properly and if the benefits of new measures outweigh their costs…Our analysis suggests that proposals to restrict the amount of information available would not yield net benefits for consumers.”

Right. And besides all that, the argument has been made before in this space that the conversation about online privacy seems totally detached from the presence of far more intrusive forms of data-driven marketing offline. Really, how many online ads are intruding on dinner hour at home at night? In comparison to some offline tactics, behavior targeting online is thoroughly benign. Thus, apart from the benefits that may exist, the dangers of anonymous data online should be measured againsts the dangers of more extreme data uses offline – and there don’t appear to be many. Offline data use is frequently a nuisance to consumers, but not typically a danger. Online data use is neither.

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