White House Creates Privacy And Internet Policy Committee
President Obama's National Science and Technology Council will head the Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy. The White House will staff the group with representatives from more than a dozen departments, agencies and advisory panels across the executive branch.
Kerry, general counsel at the Department of Commerce, and Schroeder, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, will spearhead the council. The panel will work with members of Congress to provide advice on legislating the practices of online marketers and data brokers, which bleed into companies that handle behavioral targeting and demand-side platforms.
The announcement follows several Internet privacy breaches where Google unknowingly collected information from residential Wi-Fi networks. Facebook also said that developers of third-party gaming applications could collect user identifications through browsers. And it turns out that the Twitter API gives developers access to lots of information on direct messages.
And in Europe, Neil Mason tells us about privacy issues beginning to surface, with a focus on the Europeon E-Privacy Directive passed into law last year.
Mason tells us the directive explains that users must give consent before EU member states can store or use personal information, but the way it's being interpreted is that users must give their explicit consent to a cookie being dropped on their device. The directive has a provision for cookies fundamental to the delivery of the service, but I agree with Mason when he explains this leaves tracking cookies of all kinds vulnerable to how this amendment is actually interpreted.
Company employees and consumers, not just executives at European companies, need an education. Who should provide that education? Is it the consumer's responsibility -- or that of the technology companies that provide the services? Or, should education be left to the brands or advertising agencies? Is there a way to gain access to more relevant ads without regulating the online advertising industry to death?