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Verizon: Public Shame Will Keep Us Honest About Privacy
The same way guilt will keep a bear from eating grandpa....
by Karl Bode 04:45PM Tuesday Oct 14 2008
ISPs have quietly been selling your browsing data without your consent for years, but only recently, with the advent of behavioral advertising, did Congress and the media really notice. The attention brought to the practice by companies like Phorm and NebuAD prompted Congress to question whether existing privacy and wiretap laws make such a practice illegal, and if not, whether they should pass a law that requires consumers opt in, instead of being forced to opt-out. Obviously the ISPs and ad companies don't want new restrictions on how they can make money, so they've recently been trying to convince Uncle Sam they should be allowed to self regulate.

Industry leadership through some form of oversight/self-regulatory model, coupled with competition and the extensive oversight provided by literally hundreds of thousands of sophisticated online users (will) help ensure effective enforcement of good practices and protect consumers.
-Verizon
AT&T and Verizon recently proposed a voluntary code of conduct that involves making such systems opt-in. Today, Verizon PR man Link Hoewing posts to the Verizon blog (via GigaOM) to say that Verizon believes that new privacy rules aren't necessary, because public shame will keep them from doing anything stupid:
quote:
A couple of years back during the debate on net neutrality, I made the argument that industry leadership through some form of oversight/self-regulatory model, coupled with competition and the extensive oversight provided by literally hundreds of thousands of sophisticated online users would help ensure effective enforcement of good practices and protect consumers.
Public shame hasn't done much to stem the sale of user clickstream data -- largely because ISPs simply deny they do it. Sure, if the Comcasts and Verizons of the world do something incredibly stupid that happens to be easy to understand, the public backlash and media coverage can force them to change course. But studies indicate that the general public is utterly clueless when it comes to online privacy, which makes it relatively easy to trick them into supporting questionable policies.

ISPs certainly know this well -- recently arguing that selling your browsing history without oversight "empowers users," while delivering an "enhanced online experience" that's almost as good as faster speeds. These don't sound like companies that are particularly concerned about shame. While the public outcry over NebuAD did result in multiple ISPs canceling planned deployment of deep packet inspection ad delivery systems, ISPs didn't cancel those plans out of shame -- they canceled them because ISP lawyers believed there was a possibility they could be violating the law. That's not shame, it's fear.

That would seem to support plans by politicians like Edward Markey that would make it a law that users must opt-in to having their browsing data sold. Relying on an amoral corporation to be shamed into protecting user privacy is like hoping that guilt will deter a hungry bear. Equally absurd is allowing these companies to design voluntary codes of conduct that they can ignore or adhere to in equal measure. Of course it may be too much for Congress to pass an opt-in law without screwing it up -- or watering it down to the point it becomes meaningless.

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ninjatutle
Premium

join:2006-01-02
San Ramon, CA

Now, if only Comcast had morals

Look at Verizon. They were the whipping boy here for whatever they did in PA years ago. Look at where they have come.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Shame only exists..

When you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
I'm sure that Verizon/AT&T and other large carriers will find better methods of not being caught, and put spin on it when they do. They have many lawyers to help draft their terms to be vague enough to not be caught on any specific item.
--
Canada = Hollywood North

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

Re: Shame only exists..

said by en102:

When you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
Maybe on a "corporate" basis, but I think that some people behave better than this -- they make mistakes, realize later that they were wrong, and make amends.
SilverSurfer1

join:2007-08-19

Re: Shame only exists..

said by funchords:

Maybe on a "corporate" basis, but I think that some people behave better than this -- they make mistakes, realize later that they were wrong, and make amends.
We're not talking about "some people." We're talking about corporation whose sole existence for being is profit at any cost. Shame cannot be elicited from a stone just as blood can't be squeezed from a turnip.
ozar
Premium
join:2008-04-13
USA

utterly clueless

Where it said "the public is utterly clueless when it comes to online privacy" sums it up quite nicely!
--
oz

S_engineer
Premium
join:2007-05-16
Chicago, IL

Re: utterly clueless

said by ozar:

Where it said "the public is utterly clueless when it comes to online privacy" sums it up quite nicely!
online privacy....what an oxymoron!

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Shame only happens if you admit you were wrong

... these companies say "So what? We're entitled to do anything we want--- you agreed to it in the legalese."
jarthur31

join:2006-04-14
Carlsbad, NM

Re: Shame only happens if you admit you were wrong

If they would just make it a little bit palpable like offering 1.5 MB upload standard then alot of us wouldn't mind.

anchorfree

@pacbell.net

re: if only Comcast had Morals

Over the last few months, I've posted a lot of commentary on DPI, and related efforts at intercepting user behavior at the network level for profitable gain. Here's a recap:

www dot dmnews.com/Shielding-consumers-from-privacy-breaching-ISP-tracking/article/112169/

Nontheless, I would recommend to ALL consumers to procure a VPN tool to absolutely ensure your personal privacy while on-line. From emails, to browsing history, to entering data in input boxes (search or otherwise) - it's all wide open to Comcast and other ISPs.

My company offers a free VPN - yes, it is in fact ad supported - but we don't store ANY personally identifiable info. Your company may offer one as well - often times you simply need to check with the IT personnel - they all usually have them (required for their jobs - but not yours necesarily) but may 'set you up' if you only asked.

happy VPN hunting.

AnchorFree Inc.
Mark Smith, COO, AnchorFree

Eric the Red

@plus.com

Blunt..

.. but eloquent!

Jonah

@btcentralplus.com

Be Careful what you Offer.

@anchorfree

I used you service for a while but because of some of the hoops it requires to logon , I probably got an Infostealer(trojan) linked to my system via one of your Ads or linked Websites, so you also need to be careful with your end to make it more difficult for this to happen.

It hasn't put me off your Service & the trojan got nowhere near my core system, it's just a note to help make you aware to be more careful!
Craig08

join:2008-03-31
.

VPNs, Xerobank

Trustworthy ?