Feb 052010
 February 5, 2010  Posted by  Misc, Online

Larry Downes writes:

After attending last week’s Federal Trade Commission online privacy roundtable, I struggled for several days to make some sense out of my notes and my own response to calls for new legislation to protect consumer privacy. The result was a 5,000 word article—too long for nearly anyone to read. More on that later.

Even as the issue of privacy continues to confound much brighter people than me, however, the related problem of securing the Internet has also been getting a great deal of attention. This is in part due to the widely-reported announcement from Google that its servers and the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents had been hacked, leading the company to threaten to leave China altogether if its government continues to censor search results.


Privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies are simply arguing past each other, with Internet companies trapped in the middle. Unmentioned at the FTC hearing—largely because law enforcement is out of the scope of the agency’s jurisdiction—is the legal whipsaw that Internet companies are currently facing. On the one hand, privacy and consumer regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere are demanding that information collectors, including communications providers, search engines and social networking sites, purge personally-identifiable user data from their servers within 12 or even 6 months.

At the same time, law enforcement agencies of the very same governments are asking the same providers to retain the very same data in the interest of criminal investigations. Frank Kardasz, who conducted the law enforcement survey, wrote in 2009 that ISPs who do not keep records long enough “are the unwitting facilitators of Internet crimes against children.” Kardazs wants laws that “mandate data preservation and reporting,” perhaps as long as five years.

Read more on LarryDownes.com.

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