Republicans Ask For Reduced Online Regulation And Improved Data Protection
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, Legal P2P News & Issues
Recent news from ArsTechnica informs that Republicans forwarded their new party platform which supports internet freedom and data protection, along with protections from “unwarranted or unreasonable governmental intrusion through the use of aerial surveillance.”
The Republican Party (GOP) also criticizes the harsh international regulations of the internet, and the concept of the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule. In their opinion, the agency is “trying to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.”
Furthermore, the GOP called for “offensive capabilities” when it comes to cybersecurity, probably reminding of cases like Stuxnet and several malware “incidents” that presumably originated from super-secret American programs. The party also wants online gambling to be completely forbidden, along with “vigorous enforcement” of “all forms of pornography and obscenity.”
Republican’s platform for 2008 did not include the word “data”, but instead used the word “internet” when asking for more online transparency from government’s side. At the time, they asked for prohibiting “internet access taxes” and a halt to “all new cell phone taxes.”
As for their 2012 platform, under “Protecting Internet Freedom” they see the internet as a place that “unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power.”
Also, the platform calls for more privacy:
“We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector.”
EPIC or the Electronic Privacy Information Center also got involved and called for protection of personal data which, by the way, is available under the 1986’s Electronic Communications Privacy Act. However, EPIC, along with other rights groups, believe that a reform of the act is mandatory:
“We believe that the private sector approach to protect personal data has failed,” said Amie Stepanovich – associate litigation counsel at EPIC.
However, in Berin Szoka’s opinion (president of tech policy group TechFreedom) the platform is not well thought as it lacks the appropriate language:
“In context, I think it’s pretty clear the ‘right of control’ they’re talking about is a right against government access,” Szoka wrote in an e-mail to ArsTechnica.
“But it’s bound to be misinterpreted by privacy regulatory advocates as a general right to control information held by third parties about us—which is essentially the approach of groups like EPIC. In particular, what exactly does the term ‘their data’ mean, anyway? The authors probably meant data that users upload or create to services—e.g., tweets, e-mails, Google Docs. But this term will likely be interpreted to mean much more than that: data merely about them—which is more properly referred to as ‘personally identifiable information.’ At best, this is poor draftsmanship.”
And he’s not the only one….
“Additionally, while the right for individuals to control the use of their data by third parties could be an important part of protecting online privacy, it’s unclear exactly what this statement in the platform is referring to,” Woodrow Hartzog (a professor of law at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University) said in an e-mail to Ars.
“Individuals do not own their personal information in the traditional sense. The First Amendment also protects against many attempts to restrict the publication of personal information. Instead, a loose patchwork of laws, regulations, and contracts provide limited rights to control one’s personal information in the United States. These rights certainly protect individuals in some contexts but often leave them vulnerable to harm in many others.”
As for the EFF, Lee Tien – staff counsel – said that the data protection section of the platform “has lots of implications”:
“You can’t tell what they mean by full constitutional protection given flux in current Fourth Amendment law on business records in third-party hands,” he wrote in an e-mail to Ars.