The Senate Commerce Committee, led by Senator Jay Rockefeller, yesterday held its “The Need for Privacy Protections: Is Industry Self-Regulation Adequate?” hearing, in which Ohio State University Law School’s Prof. Peter Swire, Mozilla’s Alex Fowler, the Association of National Advertisers’ Bob Liodice, and TechFreedom’s Berin Szoka testified. And if you happened to be listening, Prof. Swire went a bit off script when questioned by Rockefeller.
Swire stated that if the website and advertisers respected consumers’ desire for a Do Not Track standard, cybersecurity would be put at risk. Translation: advertisers are collecting data on users to keep us all safe, just like Big Brother. That’s a nice bit of politically-motivated pandering on behalf of advertisers, whose only real objective is money.
It’s rather astonishing that Swire would take this approach, which so openly suggests a contentedness with an Internet-enabled surveillance state, not only domestically but internationally. And it goes some way in explaining how a communication medium, the Internet, which was supposed to be free, has been slowly subsumed by the control of power and money.
The government, on the one hand, states that websites, ISPs and advertisers need to collect data to aid the fight against terrorism (then they conveniently use the legal instruments to fight other crimes likes drug dealing). Then the government allows advertisers, on the other hand, to accumulate vast sums of user data in order to have ready access to it when necessary.
It’s a win-win relationship, and Mr. Swire said what both government and business never utter—they are in this together.