Because it is an election year, Congress is making moves to protect “the children” and the “consumer” once again in order to win more votes in November. In the consumer protection category of legislative nonsense comes Web Privacy on the Radar in Congress.
Here’s what to expect.
1. Because of partisan bickering, don’t expect a major overhaul of U.S. Internet privacy laws to be passed in this Congress. There will be a lot of holier-than-thou pronouncements by politicians (smoke but no fire).
2. Due to abuses of private information by a few websites, there’s a good chance that additional privacy laws will be passed in 2009 or 2010.
3. Major Internet sites (companies with teams of in-house lawyers) will try to structure the new legislation in such a way as to prevent competition by smaller Internet marketers. This will be spun by public relations departments as the companies’ efforts to protect consumers while totally ignoring the underlying anti-competitive agenda.
4. Assume that any legislation Congress considers to protect your privacy will in fact be ineffective, burdensome for entrepreneurs, and will not do a damn thing to actually prevent others from using your personal information.
Remember that most of the information online that you want to protect is already covered by existing laws. Someone misuses your credit card number? They can already be pursued under numerous federal and state statutes.