FTC: Don’t Turn Out the Lights on Internet Advertising

Ever been in a meeting room where the lights are way too bright?  But when you shut the lights off, it’s too dark and really all you need is a simple dimmer switch to adjust the lights just the way you want.


FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has entered the room where millions of Americans are happily using free online services that are paid for by targeted advertising.  And the Chairman thinks the FTC needs to shut the lights off. Read more

Privacy and Sustainability

Friday January 28 is Data Privacy Day. Unlike so many special-purpose days on the public calendar, this one’s not a ploy to sell greeting cards or flowers. Data Privacy Day is designed to prod Internet users to take a critical look at how they share and communicate their private information online.


Data Privacy Day occurs at an opportune time this year, since multiple arms of our federal government are looking to regulate privacy practices in our economy’s strongest growth engine – online services. Congress, the Commerce Department, and the Federal Trade Commission each have proposed new rights and rules for data privacy.


It’s good to see attention focused on privacy, but when the government plans new restrictions on private activities, rule number one must be, do no harm. Read more

Why Online Dating Criminal Background Checks Aren’t As Advertised

Recent media attention has resurrected the notion that criminal background checks for online dating sites are helpful and should even be required by law. Sunday’s front page article in the New York Times described how companies selling background checks can “unmask Mr. or Ms. Wrong.” And today’s Good Morning America featured a segment called “Online Dating: Are you Flirting with a Felon?”


Braden Screenshot GMAI was interviewed by both the Times and Good Morning America to say that these background checks are superficial, create a false sense of security, and that government should never mandate these for online dating sites. First of all, I should say that I’m personally involved in this issue. I met my wife on Match.com. We didn’t screen each other, at least not for a criminal past. I remember doing a simple search on her screen name however, and for a while thinking she could be someone who she wasn’t, though. Read more

At FCC’s “Generation Mobile” Event, the Kids Speak Plainly & Pointedly

FCC Gen MobileAt today’s FCC “Generation Mobile” forum — chock-full of online safety experts, company reps, Jane Lynch of the TV show Glee, and even Chairman Genachowski himself — it was the kids that made the show about mobile technology worthwhile. On a panel about generation mobile, here are a few of the statements we heard from high school kids:


  1. “Don’t just take the phone away.”
  2. “When parents snoop too much, it’s a privacy invasion.”
  3. “We’ll listen more if you present us with concrete evidence for behavioral restrictions.” Read more