Your Internet privacy is in Congress's hands now

The White House plan for a consumer privacy bill of rights sounds good on paper, but real action is still pending

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In a recent post, I suggested it's time to regulate Facebook and asked whether we needed a national privacy law, lest our Web surfing habits end up costing us jobs or insurance or worse. The answer? A resounding yes. Reader J. M. writes:

It may or may not take a long time to percolate but in the end it's going to be a freedom of speech issue. Even though "big brother" in this case may be private enterprise, if we cannot read different points of view or research information without suffering economic penalties and injustices of dignity and political labeling, we have allowed ourselves a great loss of freedom. That's not the American way.

Today's announcement of course is mostly politics. The White House took a stance that appears to be looking out for consumers while not angering the high-tech industry that heavily supports it, knowing Congress will likely do nothing. Still, that's better than a "let the market decide" tactic, which is really no stance at all.

I'll believe our government is serious about ensuring our privacy when it enacts serious penalties for companies that abuse our data instead of just issuing a wrist slap. As baseball-loving Cringe fan C. D. notes, "All the privacy laws in the world don't amount to much if nothing happens to the violators."

Privacy laws are good. Privacy laws with teeth are better.

Is the consumer privacy bill of rights a serious step forward or just more hot air? Vote with your fingers below or email me:

This article, "Your Internet privacy is in Congress's hands now," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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