Offending companies at the very least should pay every bank and account holder for the cost of canceling and reissuing credit and debit cards due to negligent data practices. Restitution should also include payment for the time required to fix the fallout of their negligence. Add a fine of $10 per record, and you will certainly see a drop in breaches that expose millions of customers' account data at a time -- or at least more diligence in protecting those records.
It is well past time to get serious about citizens' sensitive data.
Agenda item No. 2: Mandate net neutrality in perpetuity
It’s a new age, and with it should come new rights, such as the right to unfettered Internet access. Much as our country was originally founded on beliefs such as the freedom of speech, congregation, and religion, we should be awarded the freedom of information in the form of open network access.
If the major ISPs had their way, access to the Internet would be tiered, exactly like cable television. That is, you’d have a “basic plan” that would let you access only a handful of sites, and a larger plan, with a larger price tag, that would allow you to access more sites. If put into place, it would necessarily destroy the original premise of the Internet as a completely open network of computers, where every system can connect to every other system, regardless of location.
No good can ever come from a tiered Internet, and the government should solidify that as a basic right. This isn’t to say that every citizen should be given free Internet access, but rather that such access should not be filtered, censored, or constrained in any way.
ISPs should be free to sell various packages based on access speed and acceptable-use policies, but federal law should mandate that these services have no filtering whatsoever, including the current practice of blocking certain inbound ports.
Agenda item No. 3: Place restrictions on EULAs
Suppose GM required truck buyers to sign a document stating that the company could claim ownership to any material carried in the truck or that the company was not liable for any claims should the truck spontaneously explode due to a manufacturing defect. That’s the situation we face with software, as companies' use of EULAs (end-user license agreements) to indemnify themselves for anything and everything has spun out of control.
Some EULAs go so far as to claim ownership of any work product created with their software. Couple that with the fact that EULAs have become so onerous that few bother to read them before clicking Agree, and you can fast see disaster in the making.
The fact that these agreements are often difficult to uphold in a court of law begs the question: What is the purpose of making EULAs so wide ranging to begin with? Perhaps a User’s Bill of Rights is in order.
By all means, companies should be allowed to protect themselves with something akin to a EULA. But federally mandated standards and restrictions governing the scope of EULAs will go far in fostering innovation and growth in the software industry, not to mention protecting users from undue provisions.