State and federal politicians, fueled by the indignity of woken consumers, have started taking steps to sanitize the use of personal information online. Emboldened by sensationalized news reporting and a conflation of headlines about credit card hackings at major retailers, Wikileaks, Cambridge Analytica and any number of scheduled Facebook Congressional hearings, regulators have neatly packaged privacy using the politics of fear. Consumers hate the idea of being taken advantage of, especially when it is by one of the overlords of the Internet.
Ironically, there is little debate over the real issues in online privacy. Consumers should always have a choice. The information that consumers are willing to share in exchange for value is not even a hard concept to grasp. Seems that most rational folks think some information is OK to share. What is hard to grasp is how exactly does my anonymous digital ID turn into a threat? That said, protecting victims is important and it may be time to supplement the laws that protect consumers who actually have experienced online privacy abuse.
Strict privacy laws will stifle innovation
Privacy is an uncommonly bipartisan ground for legislators to pursue in an election year because by most accounts, it is noble to appear to protect your constituents. Just like the PPP program for small businesses or the COVID-19 response by state governors, protecting people is a good idea in principle. There is only one problem—and it is in the execution.