Microsoft, allies try to head off privacy protection, prefer voluntary guidelines

Voluntary guidelines, self regulation work better than real rules, study, consortium claim


So…while the timing of the Edelman study makes clear once again how critical customers are of the way vendors handle their private information, neither Edelman, Microsoft or any of the other members of the OTA appear to want to use the information to reform themselves.

Instead they are presenting the survey and the talkfests sponsored by the OTA as evidence the industry is making great strides toward self-regulation – appealing to the better natures of their members to benefit themselves by doing good for their customers.

"With the recent news of the data collection and tracking missteps, now is the time for businesses to make privacy and data protection a priority," according to Craig Spiezle, executive director and president of the Online Trust Alliance.

The real priority held by Spiezle and the OTA are clear from the last part of that sentence: "…make privacy and data protection a priority or face legislation which can stifle innovation and commerce."

That doesn't necessarily mean the OTA isn't concerned about consumer privacy and security for reasons that are public-spirited and ethically sound.

They could very well simply respect their customers' rights as individuals and have found the determination to do well by them.

It's much more likely they're waving the Privacy banner like a flag of truce so they can walk the battlefield safely in what look like an effort to bury the fallen and tend to the wounded when, in fact, it's much more likely they're only there to rob the dead.

If self regulation worked, there would be no diet or self-help industries (or, possibly, a recession)

Self regulation? The way the financial industry self-regulated before the financial scandals and meltdowns that crashed the U.S. and world economies, pulled the rug out from under the real estate market that made up the bulk of the wealth of most Americans and then begged for subsidies to avoid going bankrupt rather than accepting indictments so those responsible for gross violations could be sent to jail?

Yes, that's exactly the kind of self regulation that technology product and service companies would endorse. Not follow, just endorse, as a way to argue that they're already on the way to a utopian balance of commerce and privacy to avoid having to accept actual regulations and laws that would force them to behave in ways they pretend to admire.

I hate to be cynical about the intentions of players in the technology business. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt when there's any doubt to be found.

In this case – in the whole issue about whether vendors or individuals should control the private information of customers – vendors consistently ride with the invaders of privacy, not those making an effort to protect it.

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