Tech Devil: Consumer Bill of Rights Tries to Protect You

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the White House released what they're calling the consumer bill of rights for online privacy. It's in clear response to the constant complaints about privacy issues on sites like Facebook and Google. Consumers have been speaking out against the fact that they themselves allow companies like Facebook and Google to track their movements online in order to provide a better product and user experience. Other issues like the Carrier IQ and Path controversies played a role in this as well.

The main rights that are set forth in the bill of rights are Individual Control, Transparency, Respect for Context, Security, Access and Accuracy, Focused Collection and Accountability. Obviously those don't make much sense so I'll give you some context. Each right is aimed at creating protections for consumers. They attempt to force companies like Facebook and Google to give more control over privacy to the users and make sure they understand how to control it. They want to make sure that those same companies are open and honest about their practices when it comes to consumer data as well as giving consumers an easy opt-out. It’s funny because they’re already open and honest about what they do with your data.

So there are a few other minor bits of info to add to that list, but you get the idea. It's all about protecting the consumer from the big, evil websites that sell all your information to advertisers and other idiotic claims like that. Granted, they might sell info, but nothing along the lines of your name, email or phone number. Facebook just uses data such as "21-year-old male who likes football" so that a Nike ad shows up instead of an ad for perfume.

This attempt at trying to control companies by taking these measures to "protect" consumers is a waste of time. All the sites they're going after are used on an international level and trying to control that is next to impossible. The other issue that I have with this is that you're allowing consumers to continue to be stupid when it comes to their private information. If they're dumb enough to give certain private information away then that's on them. It's their responsibility to take care of their own information. If anyone had read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service of Facebook and Google, they'd realize that they're agreeing to everything those sites do with their information. I've said this before: if people were smart when it comes to dealing with their private information, there would have been no reason to even discuss a consumer bill of rights for online privacy.

I wrote a blog post about this for my Social Media class and a few people said they agreed 100%, yet we have people who believe these companies are evil and just doing this because they love being in control and having power. I can assure you that it’s not their goal. I think that instead of spending time creating a bill of rights that will be next to impossible to effectively enforce, they should have spent time providing tools that educate people on how to protect their privacy online. Oh wait, Google already did that.

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