FCW - 'The Internet of Other People’s Things'

Trade association NetChoice’s lawyer Carl Szabo advocated clean, limited best practices.

“If we’re going to have rules, they should be kind of neutral whether it’s commercial or noncommercial,” argued Szabo. “As we get into use limitations, that gets really dangerous.”

He also warned of court battles to come.

If he represented a company using drones to deliver a product from one location to another, Szabo asked, “I should go get the written consent of every landowner that lives below the public airspace [before each delivery]?”

“It’s not practicable,” Geiger countered, pointing to the extensive use of the word “reasonable” in his document to show that he wouldn’t place such a burden on a company. He added that companies should try to route flights over public lands when possible.

“You’re saying you can’t go door to door and knock on people’s houses?” Szabo fired back. “I’m saying that’s how this will be argued [in court].”

While Geiger, Stepanovich and others stressed that “best practices” were just that – suggestions for optimal behavior, not hard and fast rules – Szabo worried that lawmakers would simply lift the eventual NTIA best practices and turn suggestions into law.

“It’s very easy for legislators to take a document like this and start crossing out the word should and replacing it with the word shall,” Szabo warned.

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Orwell would say we are missing 1984’s warning

Complex issues are often oversimplified so that they can be communicated in a 15-second sound bite.  And when it comes to oversimplifying complex privacy issues, many would skip serious thoughtful discussion and resort to terms like “Orwellian” or “1984.”  But this “Cliff’s Notes” version of sophisticated privacy discussions rarely matches the actual text of George Orwell’s masterpiece.

We all know the novel 1984, or at least we think we do.  But we tend to focus on the technology involved in the story and miss the underlying warning Orwell was trying to give.  Orwell’s “Big Brother is Watching” was not about fear of new technology or businesses, but a cautionary tale about government’s unfettered access to information and the misuse of technology.  

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The Innovation Files - When Should We Hit the Panic Button on Privacy Concerns?

Carl Szabo, policy counsel for NetChoice, said government uses of technology often come with privacy concerns that the free market forces would otherwise address if it were a private sector technology.

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Carl Szabo Speaks about Facial Recognition on Australian Broadcast TV

Watch Interview Here.

Marketing Research - Escaping the Privacy Panic Cycle: Consumer concerns and emerging innovation

Carl Szabo, policy counsel at NetChoice, said that companies need to get out ahead of the privacy panic cycle.

At the same time, Szabo saw an “opportunity” for privacy activists to “try to figure out what is going on” with a new or emerging technology, such as facial recognition or mobile apps, “rather than doing this race to regulation, instead try to figure out what is going on.” Go talk to the companies developing or selling the technology so that you can educate consumers, he suggested to privacy activists, “instead of just calling the Washington Post” and raising the privacy alarm.

Instead of using Occam’s razor to understand emerging technologies, Szabo lamented that many privacy activists default to “Occam’s broom: taking the simplest explanation [that a company wants to provide something innovative for consumers] and then sweeping it under the rug.”

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Media Post - FTC Finalizes Deal With Nomi Over Location Tracking

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, App Developers Alliance, NetChoice (which counts Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo as members) and other organizations opposed the consent decree.

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Health IT Security - Illinois Governor Vetoes Data Breach Notification Bill

Carl Szabo, policy counsel for NetChoice, explained in an opinion piece for the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier that the bill treats a health data breach the same way as a breach that shows when pizza was last ordered.

“The bill levies excessive and burdensome requirements on Illinois small businesses, uniquely forcing them to spend thousands of unnecessary dollars on legal fees to write privacy policies that are customized for Illinois just for the privilege of doing business over the Internet,” Szabo wrote. “Perplexingly, the law would treat an order collected through a website differently from an order taken in person or over the phone and then stored in the same database.”

Szabo added that such policies will not make consumers safer. Instead, data breaches need to be proactively prevented and small business should not be penalized in the process.

“Governor Rauner now has an opportunity before him to correct the overreaching aspects of this bill by keeping its focus upon actual threats to the consumer public rather than concocting nationally unprecedented barriers,” he explained. “He has a chance to provide clarity and focus so that law enforcement has the ability to protect victims and find and apprehend criminals.”

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Direct Marketing News - Illinois Gov Derails Bill Restricting Collection of Marketing Information

Small businesses stood to be hurt most by the Illinois law. In an editorial in the Charleston (IL) Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, NetChoice Counsel Carl Szabo wrote that “this bill treats the breach of health care data from my health insurance company the same as a breach that reveals the last time I ordered a pie at my local pizzeria.”

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Harvard Law Blog - Private Law in the Digital Age

Further, NetChoice argues that, whereas the PEAC Act complies with federal privacy law, including the Electronic Communications Protection Act, which “sets ‘Privacy On’ by default,” the ULC proposal is “essentially creating a ‘show me everything’ rule for whoever becomes the fiduciary.” NetChoice criticizes the UFADAA for focusing only on the fiduciary’s interests; it claims that, by contrast, the PEAC Act embraces a more “balanced” approach that “balances the interests of all parties – the privacy of the deceased user; the privacy of people with whom the deceased corresponded; the needs of the fiduciary; and existing federal law.” Virginia recently adopted the PEAC Act, and Oregon is considering it.

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