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Silicon Valley Firms Want To Nix Calif. Internet Privacy Bill 110

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-the-consequences-be dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Silicon Valley tech firms, banks and other powerful industries are mounting a quiet but forceful campaign to kill an Internet privacy bill that would give California consumers the right to know how their personal information is being used. A recent letter signed by 15 companies and trade groups — including TechAmerica, which represents Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other technology companies — demanded that the measure's author, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, drop her bill. They complain it would open up businesses to an avalanche of requests from individuals as well as costly lawsuits."
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Silicon Valley Firms Want To Nix Calif. Internet Privacy Bill

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lxs (131946) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:08AM (#43514399)

    "it would open up businesses to an avalanche of requests from individuals as well as costly lawsuits."


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:11AM (#43514409)

    'It will lead to costly lawsuits' is not an argument. On the contrary - this is an argument to put the law in place.

  • Simple solution... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:13AM (#43514417)
    ... the companies stop collecting data on consumers, and going forward require opt-in to allow the data collection.

    It is as if the companies are saying, "we stole all this data from our customers, and it would be too expensive to allow them to have it back."

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:14AM (#43514427) Homepage

    It sickens me to see all of these business people who somehow feel entitled to abuse the information of people to their advantage and have no sense of guilt or remorse over it. They get people to sign papers that include open-ended words like "...with our associates" without ever stipulating who those associates were, are or will be.

    I always say "no" to those words when I see them because I see them for what it is -- a huge open door for them to insert changes of ALL sorts. Meanwhile, your end of whatever agreement says you have no right to change or do anything and if you have a dispute, you are to give up your right to trial or to sue much of the time.

    And now, when people want to know what's what, and what they are doing behind the scenes, we get what? If business is doing something which violates the trust of their customers, why doesn't a customer have a right to know?! How else can a customer know when it's time to take their business elsewhere? These entitled business people want to maintain their rights to screw people over.

  • lawsuits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:15AM (#43514429)
    " avalanche of requests from individuals as well as costly lawsuits"

    Well, whether it would be an avalanche or not, would remain to be seen. However, no company should've gotten that broad freedom of data use as they had in the first place, so however late it is, the proper thing to do is to allow individuals to see how companies handle their data and what they do with it.

    Regarding lawsuits, them being "afraid" of lawsuits means that they already think there would be reason for lawsuits, which in turn gives a lot of reasons to even more demand for proper data privacy laws. User data handling should be controlled in a way that people wouldn't have reason to sue. Yes, dream on.

    Anyway, whatever privacy laws would be better than the current state of do-whatever-you-want and change your terms of service by the weather approach most companies follow.
  • Ballsy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:20AM (#43514469) Journal

    You almost have to admire the sociopathic chutzpah that it must take for AIG to comment, much less demand to get their way, on just about anything ever again ever...

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:22AM (#43514489) Homepage

    Menlo Park-based Facebook and Mountain View-based Google are both in the district represented by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, who said he hasn't made up his mind on the bill, but is looking for the "sweet spot" where privacy is protected "but you don't completely shut off Internet commerce. I'm trying to sort it out."

    People don't want to pay for Google, Facebook, etc. Therefore, they use advertising to make a profit. What the privacy advocates don't want to admit here is that anyone using a free, ad-supported service has no moral right to not have their use evaluated for better advertising. This is true even on sites that use AdSense and such as their primary way of delivering content. If you are getting spied on at the WSJ's paid for site, you have a right to shout about that from the roof tops and bay for blood. If you do it on Google News, you're kidding yourself.

    We do need more commerce. A lot more of it and a lot less advertising in our business models.

  • Re:Ballsy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:35AM (#43514537) Homepage

    The AIG executives pal around with the executives from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. Of course they have sociopathic chutzpah - this is the group of people who committed 11-figure frauds, got a giant bailout from the US taxpayer, and then worked hard in Washington to ensure that the agencies and regulations proposed to prevent that from recurring either didn't exist, had no funding, etc.

    In other words, these are criminals who are upset at the police for catching them, and their solution is to just make sure there aren't any police or that they own the judges.

  • Re:Hypocrite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 22, 2013 @08:58AM (#43514663) Journal

    Hey! Be nice. Our good buddy Eric has a 100% consistent and hypocrisy-free commitment to the principle that surveillance technology should never be allowed into the hands of people who he might conceivably be vulnerable to...

    Street-view cars and omnipresent online surveillance are OK; because those things are crazy expensive to operate usefully, and because if you don't want your house photographed you can just buy a larger plot of land, a higher fence, and more rentacops! Civilian drones, though, some bored kid with a couple hundred bucks could buzz his Betters for nothing more than the cost of electricity to recharge his little model airplane, and we just can't have that.

  • Re:Hypocrite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesh (87723) on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:01AM (#43514685)

    > A recent letter signed by 15 companies and trade groups — including TechAmerica, which represents Google, LOL. Google with the same Eric Schmidt who wants Drones banned because he's worried about the invasion of privacy when they fly over your mansion estate? ""You're having a dispute with your neighbour," he hypothesised. "How would you feel if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?" Gee I don't know Eric. About the same way I feel when you run your fingers through my hair. []

    That's different though. The drones issue is about _his_ privacy, not yours.

    And I stand by my previous statement concerning drones. I'm happy for it to be legal for my neighbor or government to fly a drone over my property, if it's also legal for me to disable it and then take possession of it when it crashes onto my property, and for my neighbor/government to be responsible for anything it breaks when it crashes.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:15AM (#43514767)
    Ermmm... no. Not quite. If Google wants to keep all that information, fine, but they need to be open about it. No, hiding the truth in 90 pages of ToS documents written in legalese is not, by an stretch, "open". Then and only then can consumers make an informed decision about whether or not to use Google's services.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:53AM (#43514985)

    What the privacy advocates don't want to admit here is that anyone using a free, ad-supported service has no moral right to not have their use evaluated for better advertising.

    Those are weasel words. Anyone has a moral right to not being tracked by private companies. Therefore, they have a moral right to not be subject to behavioural studies intended to improve advertising effectiveness. Let's not forget that advertising is a form of brainwashing, propaganda designed to induce particular behaviours. It is essentially conspiracy to psychological assault.

    Where the companies go wrong is in assuming that tracking people without explicit consent is ok. Where the companies go wrong is in assuming that once given, that consent cannot be taken away again. On the contrary, people are allowed to change their minds.

    By all means, companies should if they so wish track people without the ability, IN ANY WAY, to identify a specific individual. And this SHOULD BE VERIFIABLE, either through a formal audit similar to an IRS audit with serious consequences for noncompliance, or through letting any individual at any time demand a comlete list of the information gathered about them together with the option to completely eradicate said information verifiably, or be sued.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:57AM (#43515007)

    That's not enough. What will happen is that every company and their brother will require carte blanch opt in in order to do any transaction with them. There needs to be some sort of restriction on the collection and dissemination of information for purposes unrelated to the reason the person gave the information in the first place.

    Night clubs that check id to verify legal drinking age aren't allowed to require that customers let them scan ids and keep records because that isn't necessary for the purpose of verifying age.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:59AM (#43515043)

    There is a coming backlash to the ubiquitous collection of personal data. There has to be. The sharing of information for monetization purposes is alarming. Some of this data is harmless, some of it would ruin lives. What with technology leaps quietly occurring in the background, it is simply a matter of time before websites are able to track you from your desktop to your mobile, even if you are not logged into any services. There is going to be a big breach of data. It has to happen because companies are careless with data. The want the money associated with your data, but not the security processes that naturally have to protect it.

    It's 2013. I don't have a Facebook account, a Google account, a LinkedIn account. I think companies that track and score people based on their supposed "clout" are stupid, polarizing, and serve to create a digital apartheid. Personal data should be personal. Cookie and other data should be first party only. If a company needs metrics, let them do it for themselves. If they cannot, they have a bad business model.

    Point: personal data should be expensive for the companies to have. Breaches should cost millions and should be a federal offense, especially if SSNs are involved. There should be no appeals. You lose data, have a breach, you bought the farm.

  • Color me cynical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:09AM (#43515599)

    The trend in the last 15 years or so has been "if it's good for a corporation's profits, it's good for America." Rep. Lowenthal is either going to see her political adversaries get a fat campaign check or the anti-privacy coalition will make her an offer she can't refuse. I've seen too many of the staunches defenders of the public go 180 when the cash starts moving.

  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:32AM (#43515819)

    If you don't want them using that information, don't give it to them. It's your choice. The government should not get involved.

    These businesses can still get info about you even if you don't directly deal with them. So you're arguing froma false premise from the start.

  • Bullshit argument (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Monday April 22, 2013 @11:56AM (#43516069) Journal

    People don't want to pay for Google, Facebook, etc.

    I don't even want to USE Google, Facebook, etc. But the thing is that they want to track me anyway. They lurk on almost every website. These companies invade the web. So don't pretend it is my fault. I have to install a zillion firefox plugins to block them. This is not a "it's free, so shut up" situation, but an "it's evil, these corporations must be punished" situation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @01:46PM (#43517101)

    What the privacy advocates don't want to admit here is that anyone using a free, ad-supported service has no moral right to not have their use evaluated for better advertising.

    Absolute horseshit. I have every right in the world (moral and otherwise) to not have any part of my life misused or abused for any reason, let alone for the profit of others. Is it realistic to expect that to actually play out in the real world? I dunno; I suppose there was a time in the American south when a black man had no expectation of being free, completely apart from what the morality of that issue was.

    What I really don't understand is how you ignorant bastards ever got the idea that businesses have a right to do what they wish as long as it will make them money. If a business decides to entice people to use their services by making them free, and further decides they'll make money by advertising on said services, that fact itself creates no obligation whatsoever on the part of individuals using that service. If said business decides they cannot make enough money on said services without invading the privacy of the individuals using it, it is not those individuals who have made an improper decision, it is the business.

    If you are a business who cannot make money without doing something nefarious, it does not obligate anybody to allow you to do those nefarious things. It may well mean you have screwed up your business model and either need to change it, or make way for someone who can successfully do business without engaging in such behavior.

  • by Cenan (1892902) on Monday April 22, 2013 @02:32PM (#43517599)

    Indeed. If they're afraid of costly lawsuits then they have no business in the tech industry. Nor any other industry.

    A lot of companies have discovered this, and therefore moved their business operations elsewhere. Hence this whole deal about outsourcing - too many people here are big whiners who make the legal costs associated w/ doing anything skyrocket, w/ the result that the cost of doing business in the US is orders of magnitude higher than the cost of doing it elsewhere. So they simply move operational costs offshore, fire Americans - whiners and non-whiners alike - and then everyone is left whining that outsourcing is looting US jobs.

    That is a false assumption. It might partially apply to the US but the US is not the only western country to have experienced a boom in outsourceing, and that is regardless of fuckedup-ness of legal system. Outsourcing is a financial decision for the most part, and a decision about putting your fingers in your ears and hoping for the best, in the short term.
    The bill is a problem for the kind of business who does not wan't people to know what kind of data the business keeps on them, or does not yet have an automated solution to those requests. The former: Good riddance, hopefully the latter will wisen up and implement it. In either case, you and I are better off with the bill than without.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bdwebb (985489) on Monday April 22, 2013 @02:32PM (#43517605)
    I think the fact that one of their specific complaints is that it would "open up businesses to [...] costly lawsuits" is the exact reason to allow this piece of legislation to move forward.

    If these companies are doing shit with our personal information that is so shady that it would immediately cause a flood of lawsuits once this bill brought those things to light (which everyone pretty much already knows), this seems like legislation we should have had long ago.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson