Who's on Our Side?

"Lawmakers" (and let's hope that's just an honorary title) in the U.S. Congress have proposed a bill which would make it legal for any company to share the information they collect about you unless you specify otherwise. This applies not just to transactions over the Internet but in every aspect of our daily lives.

To add insult to injury, consumers would have no right to sue if their privacy was violated. The Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for enforcing this law, unless, of course, the company was a part of a "self-regulating" privacy organization.

And who's going to watch the watchers? Certainly not the states. This law take the power away from them. You see, "the free flow of consumer data has been a cornerstone of the modern information-based economy." In other words, progress can only be had at the expense of personal privacy and consumer rights abuses.

Isn't this the way telemarketing works? The phone rings off the hook with unsolicited calls, stealing precious personal time or employee resources. We go as far as to voluntarily submit our personal information to the very organizations that invade our privacy in the hopes that their do-not-call lists will eliminate a few interruptive phone calls. When they call anyway, we say take us off your list with no way of knowing if they do or not. The calls continue. We have no recourse.

Is this kind of "self-regulation" we can expect? This is good for the American people? Is there anybody who realizes some tangible value from telemarketing? I mean, besides AOL's of the world? Yet, this bill has received more support than any other privacy bill put before the House since the beginning of last year.

Which leads me back to the original question: if the people we elect to power are against us, then who's on our side?

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