The Facts Speak for Themselves on Privacy for Social Networking Sites

Res ipsa loquitor means “the facts speak for themselves.”  However, for quite some time, it’s been difficult to obtain straight facts on privacy issues since they came from loaded questions.  But a new Pew Research Institute study shows that social networking sites provide significant public good, and that if consumers are concerned about using such sites, as privacy groups like Common Sense Media suggest, consumers’ actions do not reflect such concerns.

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Gratitude for Golden State Senators

Kudos to the 23Thank-You-sign state Senators who stopped California’s misguided attempt to “save the Internet”.

Their votes to scuttle S. 242 is a welcome reversal of self-destructive behavior from a state that’s become its own worst enemy, in spite of having the world’s only real golden goose — the innovative and empowering companies of Silicon Valley. Read more

A Gift for the Man Who Has Everything

Today, a distinguished US Senator who was once concerned that the Internet had become the “number one national hazard” held a hearing on online privacy.   During the hearing, Senator John Rockefeller (WV) added these informed judgments on ad-supported Internet innovation and business models:

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The Google-Buzz settlement: a buzzkill for online services

The comment period just ended for the FTC’s proposed consent decree with Google over privacy violations when Google launched their Buzz social network last year.   There were about 30 comments posted, but the most important comment we’ve seen is by reporter Grant Gross in his IDG News piece, “Google Buzz Settlement a ‘killer’ for E-commerce”.

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$80 Billion Tab for a "Free Lunch"

We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Everything comes at a price, including free Internet content and web services, nearly all of which are paid for by advertisers.

Proponents of “Do Not Track” legislation talk about giving consumers what they want, but nobody is asking whether consumers want to start paying the price — if advertisers won’t pay the bills anymore.

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Do Americans Really Want Do Not Track?

Iawful LogoWe often hear politicians say, “Americans need this” and “Americans demand that.”  But before Congress passes new privacy laws to regulate online advertising, let’s be honest about what Americans really want.


As we described in iAWFUL last week,Federal legislation to mandate Do Not Track would cut deeply into the online
advertising revenue that pays for free content and services and funds so much Internet innovation.  We need an honest discussion of the impact of Do Not Track.  But what we hear from Capitol Hill is politically charged rhetoric and misrepresented surveys and statistics to justify predetermined agendas. Read more

Updated iAWFUL List Ranks Top Threats to Online Commerce

Today we published our March 2011 “iAWFULIawful Logolist of bad Internet laws.  We identified a surge in state and federal online privacy legislation that is threatening to tie the hands of online innovators.   (iAWFUL was already picked-up in CNET, Politico, The Hill, and

Our Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL) tracks the 10 pieces of state and federal  legislation that pose the greatest threat to the Internet and e-commerce.  Read more

Institutionalizing Consumer Trust and Public Interest at ICANN

For an organization where people argue for hours over arcane minutiae, it’s remarkable that virtually everyone agrees that ICANN should serve the “global public interest” and build “consumer trust” in the Internet.


Although it’s only three pages long, ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) cites “public interest” five times and “consumer trust” eight times. So at the ICANN meeting today in Cartagena, Colombia, a group of participants explored ways to “institutionalize” these concepts within the organization. Read more

Enhancing Trust Mechanisms for Data Collection and Information Sharing

There was a great discussion today at the New America Foundation on the technical measures of trust on the Internet and browser certificates. It was a geek-fest where nearly everyone laughed at Andrew McLaughlin’s Star-Trek analogies.


But most policymakers are not so geeky, and associate Klingons with those things that stick to your clothing. And their concerns over trust extends broader than web-based certificates to all sorts of online information collection. Read more

Cyber Security Bill Flays Those Who Pay—With No Ability for a Court Day

scales-of-justice In an effort to prove the axiom that no good deed goes unpunished, lawmakers are now looking to potentially impose onerous and costly new rules on the private-sector companies that built and operate the vast majority of the nation’s critical Internet infrastructure. And as we expressed in a recent Reuters article, draft cybersecurity legislation could block a vital aspect of the governmental process: a right to a day in court.


Based on two (1, 2) previous cybersecurity bills, a draft bill that has been circulating around town backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give the White House sweeping new powers over companies that operate “covered critical infrastructure” or (CCI). Under the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security could force companies that operate CCI to pay for expensive new operational requirements and upgrades. Read more