News on Capital Hill, in a televised meeting, featured one representative from Ohio, and another from Illinois raising questions at the end of five presentations on Internet privacy. All of the speakers indicate diversified perspectives concerning possible legislation on the use of spyware on the Internet.
Moderated by Zach Star, Representative from Ohio, he first called on Susan Grant for her perspective as a spokesperson for The Consumer Federation of America.
Representing approximately 300 businesses, Susan Grant began with a description of how invasive spyware can be. She offered a few tentative suggestions to remedy the overly abundant and invasive spyware activity on the net.
Referring to the success of the “don’t call” list, from the olden days of telemarketing, Grant suggested that a possible “Do not track” list can help with privacy issues concerning spyware.
She offered an alternative approach. If you want advertisers to follow your shopping and other business transactions, you may place your name on a list indicating your approval to advertisers and other surveillance operations.
Joan Gillman from Time Warner Cable expressed that limiting spyware could have a deleterious effect on innovation.
From The Software Freedom Law Center, Columbia University Law Professor Ben Moglen suggested ad blocks, as well as legislation prohibiting use of spyware.
Further, Moglen suggests a National Privacy Act. His input suggests that spying is spying. The kind of spying authorized by government is seated within a democracy. On the internet it is a whole different story.
Consumers should have the right to know exactly what information is being gathered and what is being done with it, he states.
A younger looking man, Daniel Castro, had much to say in support of current techniques of internet advertising. He began with statistics. Business on the Internet, at 300 billion per year, represents 2% of the gross national product, says Castro.
His position, as a representative for Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, referred to university research from which he listed the following reasons not to eliminate statistical information gathering:
Consumers would have to pay the difference because of loss of revenue from ad blocking, and prohibition
Spyware would be difficult to follow, and rules tough to enforce
The result would be using more pop-up advertising that doesn’t require a statistical focus.
The expense of enforcing laws on spyware usage would be exorbitant.
Next, Joe Pasqua from Semantec had a futuristic presentation of the big picture. Reminiscent of the TV cartoon, The Jetsons, everything will eventually be connected to the Internet – dishwashers, refrigerators, T.V., and more.
The meeting ended with a symmetrical division, flanked around Joe Pasqua’s enigmatic contribution. Two of the speakers were almost adamant about invasion of privacy. And the other two indicated the economic benefits of spyware ignoring the privacy factor altogether.