The Privacy Hearing

Here’s some news on Boucher’s privacy campaign:

It’s not clear how broad a law Boucher has in mind, though it’s likely to be some codification of generally accepted data-privacy practices. Those include telling people when you collect data and why, letting them choose to join in or not, using the data only for the reason you collected it, letting people see and correct the information and destroying it when its not longer needed.

But engineer Richard Bennett argued that DPI and network management techniques were getting a bad name and are simply the logical extension of the tools used in the early days of the internet.

Hoping to convince the subcommittee not to write legislation, AT&T’s chief privacy officer Dorothy Atwood said that the committee’s previous hearings and investigations have led to “robust self-regulation,” code-words for “no laws needed.” There’s some truth in that statement, since last summer, the subcommittee single-handedly ended ISPs dreams of letting outside companies spy on their subscribers in exchange for a little more revenue.

If the privacy is the problem, it needs to be the focus of the bill, not one of many techniques that may be used to compromise it, of course.

6 thoughts on “The Privacy Hearing

  1. Interesting. The article appears to be balanced until the end of that quote, where it slips in an assertion that ISPs “dream” of letting people spy on their customers for money. At that point, Wired shows its true colors.

    Ironically, I was out in snow, rain, and 40+ MPH winds for three hours today installing service for a rural customer who is three miles from the nearest paved road and 12 miles from the edge of the nearest small town. Demonize ISPs, and you demonize me for doing this difficult but important work.

  2. Tom is a charismatic speaker and knows whereof he speaks. It’s good that he’s in the DC area (a short drive from the end of the Red Line).

    He’s in a situation which is both better and worse than mine. Being in the DC area, he has access to plentiful backbone bandwidth. But being in a crowded metro area, he has to contend with more noise on the airwaves…. Thanks to our beloved FCC and Congress who have allocated no spectrum exclusively for broadband delivery.

    I’ll be speaking at WCAI’s Wireless Policy Summit on May 5th at the Grand Hyatt in downtown DC. (See http://www.wcai.com/events_dc2009.php Like you, I’ll be on a panel with the infamous Ben Scott of Free Press. Ben once agreed that “reasonable network management” for wireless networks should include being able to specify equipment that works properly with the network and limiting abuse of the network. But since the FCC’s “broadband policy statement” was included in the stimulus legislation, he and his lobbying organization have tasted blood and hardened their stance. He now wants to saddle wireless ISPs with crippling regulation that would destroy the ability of wireless providers to increase broadband coverage and penetration.

  3. It looks like you’ve pulled one of the other folks from Free Press:

    Amy Schatz, Telecommunications and Cyberspace Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, Moderator
    Jim Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T
    Chris Riley, Policy Counsel, Free Press
    Jeff Kohler, Founder, JAB Wireless, Inc.
    Brett Glass, Founder, LARIAT
    Jonathan Spalter, Chairman, Advisory Board, Mobile Future

    Should be an interesting debate nonetheless.

  4. Ah…. Apparently they have moved Mr. Scott to a different panel and placed one of Free Press’ lawyers on the one on which I’ll be sitting. Amy Schatz is a good moderator and is up on the issues; she was at the Stanford hearing.

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