Thursday, October 28, 2010

Transatlantic Views of Privacy

From Cecilia Kang at the Washington Post ...

The federal government has ended an inquiry into a privacy breach involving Google's Street View service, satisfied with the company's pledge to stop gathering e-mail, passwords and other information from residential WiFi networks as it rolls through neighborhoods.

Wednesday's decision by the Federal Trade Commission is a sharp contrast with the reaction of regulators in Europe. The United Kingdom has launched a new investigation into Google's collection of unencrypted WiFi data, exposing the company to potential fines. Germany told Google to mark its Street View cars that take pictures of neighborhoods and homes. The Czech Republic banned Google from expanding its mapping software program.

The differences highlight an increasing gap between regulators in the United States, where the freewheeling Internet culture has birthed many of the social networking sites and search engines used worldwide, and governments in Europe and Canada, which tend to be much more aggressive about privacy.

"Part of it is cultural, and part of it is that the U.S. and Europe have radically different privacy regimes," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the ACLU. "The European model is extensive data protection in private information, and the U.S. model is piecemeal."

This piece provides an interesting insight into how EU regulators approach privacy regulations - an approach that contrasts with how US regulators view privacy.

1 comment:

David Hernandez said...

This piece goes to show how compared to the European government, the United States government is more lenient when it comes to privacy matters. The Federal government was satisfied with a simple pledge from Google to stop gathering information from residential WiFi networks while the United Kingdom launched an entirely new investigation concerning Google's collection of unencrypted WiFi data which could possibly result in fines. In some aspect, The U.S. government could learn a thing or two from Europe about protecting privacy because although Europe may not be one hundred percent successful on matters of privacy, they have the right approach. Their laws are more stringent and their aim is to protect data and information and even though the U.S. claims to do the same they are extremely permissive. If the U.S. were able to approach, protect, and maintain privacy while still allowing for the free flow of information then the U.S. cyber world would be ideal. But because that is very unlikely, there should at least be a balance between the freedom of the internet and the privacy and security of others instead of following a "bit by bit" or "piecemeal" approach which doesn't really protect anyone.