Risk
3/30/2011
02:05 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Schwartz On Security: Online Privacy Battles Advertising Profits

Do businesses have the right to make money from the unregulated buying and selling of personal information?

That golden goose may go bye-bye if the government enshrines a person's right to online privacy. The White House is backing stronger privacy rights, as are three bills pending in the House and one in the Senate.

What might such legislation look like? Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are co-sponsoring a "Privacy Bill of Rights." While the bill is still a work in progress, a recently leaked, draft version aims to regulate organizations that use, transfer, or otherwise handle personally identifiable information (PII) or unique identifier information relating to 5,000 or more people per year.

"Some provisions require businesses to comply with specific obligations when dealing with 'sensitive' PII, which is defined as PII which, if lost, compromised, or disclosed without authorization, could 'result in harm to an individual,'" said attorney Nicole Friess, an associate at Information Law Group, in a blog post.

Fines would run $16,500 per day, multiplied either by the number of days of noncompliance or the number of people harmed. "However, liability is capped at $2 million or $3 million depending on the nature of the violation," she said.

But many questions remain unanswered, such as what constitutes "tracking" or "harm." For example, in its comment on the FTC's privacy framework, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University made the humorous, but often true, observation: "How Do We Conduct Cost-Benefit Analysis When 'Creepiness' Is the Alleged Harm?" noted attorney Richard Santalesa, senior counsel at Information Law Group, in a blog post.

In fact, the Mercatus comment argues that consumers stand to gain more than they lose from tracking. "Importantly, nothing in the Commission's proceeding has thus far demonstrated that online data collection and 'tracking' represent a clear harm to consumers per se, or that any 'market failure' exists here," it said. "Such a showing would be difficult since using data to deliver more tailored advertising to consumers can provide important benefits to the public.

So let's put the question out there: Is better advertising worth the potential tradeoff of anyone being able to buy detailed information about your browsing habits, income, or medical conditions? Because with luck, you'll be able to decide.


Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7392
Published: 2014-07-22
Gitlist allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in a file name to Source/.

CVE-2014-2385
Published: 2014-07-22
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the web UI in Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux before 9.6.1 allow local users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) newListList:ExcludeFileOnExpression, (2) newListList:ExcludeFilesystems, or (3) newListList:ExcludeMountPaths parameter t...

CVE-2014-4326
Published: 2014-07-22
Elasticsearch Logstash 1.0.14 through 1.4.x before 1.4.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a crafted event in (1) zabbix.rb or (2) nagios_nsca.rb in outputs/.

CVE-2014-4511
Published: 2014-07-22
Gitlist before 0.5.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in the file name in the URI of a request for a (1) blame, (2) file, or (3) stats page, as demonstrated by requests to blame/master/, master/, and stats/master/.

CVE-2014-4911
Published: 2014-07-22
The ssl_decrypt_buf function in library/ssl_tls.c in PolarSSL before 1.2.11 and 1.3.x before 1.3.8 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via vectors related to the GCM ciphersuites, as demonstrated using the Codenomicon Defensics toolkit.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Where do information security startups come from? More important, how can I tell a good one from a flash in the pan? Learn how to separate ITSec wheat from chaff in this episode.