We the People deserve our Privacy; but we ain’t gonna get it yet
Yesterday, with great fanfare and trumpets, President Obama announced he was looking after his people and protecting their privacy. “American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” he announced. And he gave them an Online Bill of Rights. It’s not quite a We the People moment; but it’s probably not a bad election speech.
And true to form, the EU immediately jumped in with ‘it was our idea, guv’. “USA jumps aboard the ‘Do-Not-Track’ standard” screams Neelie Kroes in her latest blog. “Good news today as the White House supports efforts for online service providers and web browsers to implement a ‘do not track standard’ – just as we have been doing here in the EU.”
But if there is one thing I have learnt about government announcements and reports, it is simply do not place too much credence on the apparent suggestions in the headlines and major paragraphs. The devil, and government always has a pandaemonium of devils, is in the detail. In this instance I simply point to a Washington Post analysis: Web privacy guidelines viewed as ‘win’ for Google.
After a year of negotiations, the White House on Thursday unveiled privacy guidelines for these firms that urged them to install “do not track” technology on browsers but fell short of requiring it. Tech giants, in particular Google, breathed a sigh of relief. They would agree to curb some tracking activities, but it would largely be on their terms and wouldn’t hobble their cash cow.