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Professor Reidenberg Argues for Consumer Privacy Protections

Submitted by on March 26 – 2013No Comment

In a recent Wall Street Journal report, Fordham Law Professor Joel R. Reidenberg held the position that the experiment of allowing corporations and business to self-regulation privacy protections with consumers has failed. He opens by arguing that the pace of technology far out-flanks consumer awareness.

Sensitive health information gleaned from the websites we visit is collected and sold, GPS and cell-signal location tracking by the police is conducted without warrants, and online retailers target consumers for higher prices based on their Web browsing histories. Industry self-regulation and options like privacy settings on social networks, Web browsers and mobile apps have failed to keep up with advances in invasive tracking techniques. Our limited legal rights don’t come close to protecting us against online tracking and profiling.

According to Reidenberg, the European Union’s protections should be a model for US regulation. Under the European model, he wrote, citizens come first, market bias is corrected, good business practice is incentivised, redress is available, independent oversight is provided, and the flow of information is guaranteed. Additionally, he wrote that there is viable support for such a system in the US.

Some say Washington can’t be trusted with crafting complex privacy legislation and that the market, if left alone, can correct many of the flaws inherent in our current system. I disagree. Washington may be stymied by gridlock, but privacy tends to have bipartisan support and polls show that most Americans want more legal protections.

Read the full debate at the Wall Street Journal

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