FC: Privacilla's Jim Harper replies to pro-regulation privacy study

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Wed Mar 27 2002 - 06:43:35 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Free-market economist replies to Robert Gellman privacy paper"

    [Jim Harper has worked on at least one free-market privacy paper that has 
    made the rounds in DC. If Robert Gellman would like to reply, I'd be happy 
    to turn this into an impromptu debate. Previous message: 
    http://www.politechbot.com/p-03307.html --Declan]
    From: "Jim Harper - Privacilla.org" <jim.harperat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Cc: <rgellmanat_private>
    Subject: Re: No broad U.S. privacy laws costs "tens of billions," study says
    Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 09:22:01 -0500
    By my cursory review, Gellman's piece is true to form in the privacy debate,
    but it represents progress.
    The progress is that the paper admits: "Privacy is an elusive, value-laden
    concept, and it is hard to reach consensus on a definition."  Alas, that's
    where the progress ends: Gellman adopts the consensus (now reaching eight
    bullet-point "principles") of European bureaucrats and Washington's
    pro-regulation advocates, then argues from there.
    A unique new argument: NOT participating in a frequent shopper program COSTS
    money.   I think most people regard participating in a frequent shopper
    program as saving money (monetizing the value of personal information about
    themselves), but Gellman's baseline appears to be that people should get
    something for nothing.
    The paper rehashes identity fraud (a crime problem) and junk mail,
    telemarketing, and spam (inconveniences premised on merchants NOT knowing
    information about would-be customers); and, of course, it incoherently
    infers support for regulating the private sector to protect against
    (genuine) threat from governments.
    This is probably timed to coattail on press given to the Progress & Freedom
    Foundation study being released today showing that privacy policies are
    pretty much ubiquitous on mainstream commercial Web sites --- meaning
    consumers are in the driver's seat.  (For the regulation advocates, this
    means it's time to move the goalposts.  ;-)
    Of course, my market perspective will appear to be the "business"
    perspective to people trapped in a 60's-radical kind of "business vs.
    consumers" paradigm . . . .
    Jim Harper
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