Can Legislation Let People Opt-Out Of Having Their Info Show Up Online?

from the seems-like-a-long-shot dept

The "Do Not Call" list has been something of a success over the past five years, but the various attempts at similar "do not X" lists always seem a bit ridiculous. The latest, coming from the state of Connecticut, would institute an impossible to enforce and most likely unconstitutional universal opt-out list for your info online. The idea is that there are so many directory sites/people search engines/list sites online, many of which have your name, address and potentially other information such as where you work. The law proposed by Connecticut's governor would allow you to "opt-out" and require all of these sites to take your info offline. Of course, as the article notes, much of that info is already public info and there's nothing illegal about compiling a list of public information. Where would the line be drawn? If your info shows up in a Google search, is Google suddenly liable? It's also unclear how you could possibly enforce a requirement that someone's name and address never get posted online. If anything, it sounds like more grandstanding legislation designed to make a politician look good rather than deal with the very real issues at hand concerning privacy.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 5:12am

    Opt In

    All websites which host user data should be opt-in. However, we all know that will not happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 5:51am

    I agree would you create a survey , form or application and make the default choices incorrect for 95% of the people that will use them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Barrenwaste, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 6:27am

    A good idea.

    This is one of the few times where I will say that reguation of the internet is a good thing. For many of us, information like home phone, address, and full name is not public information and was never intended to be so. Most times and most cases I'll agree that the internet should stand alone or fall without government intervention, in this though, I disagree. The internet, and the companies that compile and store information via the internet, should not have the right to information about you without your express permission, and silence or ignorance of thier actions should not be taken as permission. It would not be that difficult to police the internet for this sort of thing, despite what people think. A few search programs, some time spent in using them, and corelation of what pops up where will show what companies have what and how they came to get it. It should not be that you have to sign up to avoid public distribution of your information, either, rather that companies need your explicit approval of any information they share about you. This, too, would be relatively easy to prove in the majority of cases. I'm not saying that it wouldn't involve any effort, or that some companies would find ways to avoid detection, but in this I think, the majority of people would help, rather than hinder. The only reason the copyright laws are violated so often is that the violaters, for the most part, enjoy public support. I doubt these companies would. People have the right to publicly state thier opinions of you, they don't, however, have the right to run around telling everybody your likes, dislikes, hobbies, hair color, and date of birth withour your permission, why should internet peoples be any different? It doesn't matter if you have a sight with this information on it available to the public or not, this information should be yours to decide when and where it's shown.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      TheDock22, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 6:59am

      Re: A good idea.

      For many of us, information like home phone, address, and full name is not public information and was never intended to be so.

      Is this honestly what you think? Of course that information is public! How do you think you get junk mail? Have you ever pulled up your credit report? It not only has information from your current address, but your previous ones too and they give out that information for credit card companies to send you offers.

      The internet, and the companies that compile and store information via the internet, should not have the right to information about you without your express permission, and silence or ignorance of thier actions should not be taken as permission.

      I completely disagree. You are signing up to use their services, therefore they have the right to know who you are. Beside, most websites will tell you they sell your information to a 3rd party if you would read the Terms of Service contract (which I am guessing you do not). Beside, ignorance has never been an excuse for anything.

      It would not be that difficult to police the internet for this sort of thing, despite what people think.

      Again, I whole-heartedly disagree with this statement and I do not think you know what your talking about. I am not even going to bother picking apart the rest of your post because it is all non-sense.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Alan X, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 7:01am

      Re: A good idea.

      "For many of us, information like home phone, address, and full name is not public information and was never intended to be so."

      You say this as though it is a subjective question, and that you have a choice as to whether your name, address, or phone number are public or not. That's a faulty premise. That information is and always has been public, the Internet just makes it easier to find.

      By living in society, and especially by making the choice to use the Internet, you are exposing yourself to the public and giving up a certain level of privacy. You can't accept the benefits of an open society and at the same time wall off your entire personal identity from everyone else. Even if you have chosen to be unlisted in the phone book, your friends and neighbors likely know your name and contact information, and there is no law preventing them from giving that information to anyone else, or posting it on the Internet, because it is public information that you have no right to privacy over.

      There is a big difference between a "do-not-call list" and this. The do-not-call list does not prohibit other people or entities from obtaining your phone number or name, because as I explained, that information is and always will be public. It simply prevents those entities from using that information to harass you over the phone. That's the fundamental difference between the do-not-call law and this joke of a proposal.

      So, to be clear, this idea out of Connecticut is nothing more than a political ploy to score political points. It does not and should not have any chance of standing.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Ima Fish, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 7:17am

      Re: A good idea.

      "For many of us, information like home phone, address, and full name is not public information and was never intended to be so"

      Sorry, addresses, listed phone numbers, and names are necessarily public information. Your feelings on the matter otherwise are pointless.

      "should not have the right to information about you without your express permission"

      I'll agree with you about private information, but not public information. Like your age, name, listed phone number, etc.

      "It would not be that difficult to police the internet for this sort of thing... The only reason the copyright laws are violated so often is that the violaters, for the most part, enjoy public support."

      So you're saying an average person would have a better chance taking on the internet more so than the billionaires at Disney?! I don't buy it.

      "People have the right to publicly state thier opinions of you, they don't, however, have the right to run around telling everybody your likes, dislikes, hobbies, hair color, and date of birth withour your permission, why should internet peoples be any different?"

      Actually, they do have that right in the real world, so why should the internet be any different. Your hair color is publicly visable, thus, it's public knowledge! Your birthday is celebrated among friends and family, thus, it is public knowledge. If you make your likes and dislikes publicly available, they become publicly available.

      "this information should be yours to decide when and where it's shown."

      It is your choice, but once you go in public and people can see your hair color, any right of privacy you have concerning your hair color disappears.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Don't author anything, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    Digital content is fair game

    The law is stupid in the extreme. I worked as an IT consultant for many years so my name is on an large number of design, test, presentation and training materials (and many more). Many of my clients are public sector so those documents are posted on-line as required by law so an opt-out would violate these gov't entity's disclosure requirements.

    I've also posted to a number of tech. forums so my name show up there as well. I made the choice to post under my own name so I can't really expect the forum hosts to allow me to opt out now.

    I own a house. That information is public data available from the property tax rolls. I don't think I can opt out of that either, although I could sell my house.

    The fact is the vast majority of information available on the web exists as public information that is accessible by other means. Much more exists because YOU put it there. You can't control the former. As for the latter the best way to 'opt out' is to simply not create a digital presence in the first place. So don't post comments under you name, don't join social networks, don't start a blog, don't submit stories to Techdirt, don't publish documents. Turn off your computer, pay with cash, cut up your credit cards, disconnect your phone, throw away your cell phone, cancel your dish/cable, then move into a shack in the woods. Now you have opted out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Thom, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 6:47am

    I would be against it but

    it feels good once in a while to see legislation that makes life hard on the corporations to benefit the people rather than the other way around. Let big business get its panties in a bunch and fight nonsense legislation rather than me. At least BB has money and lobbyists and bought politicians to fight it with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 7:30am

    Jurisdiction

    > It's also unclear how you could possibly enforce a requirement
    > that someone's name and address never get posted online.

    Especially considering that the vast majority of these websites aren't in Connecticut. Connecticut doesn't have the authority to pass a law and bind the entire world to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 7:36am

    Coming from a politician it makes complete sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    DB, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    If memory serves, Connecticut is also the same state that has no idea how browser hijacking works, either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Barrenwaste, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 8:18am

    Ah, the sweet sound of dissent.

    First, I'll lay this to rest, there are legal ways to hide your name, number, and address, therefore, they are NOT public information, despite whatever pr you have been brainwashed with. Large companies who sell your information would love you to think that you can't stop them from doing so, but having worked on the inside in the past, I know for a fact that you can.

    Second, an open society does not mean that everything about you and your actions becomes common knowledge. An open society means you CAN share if you wish, but, by the same token, it means it respects your wishes to not share that as well. A society that forces you to share is not open, it's simply another version of totalatarianism (allow me the ism there if it doesn't actually fit, I don't have the time to look up the correct way to specify).

    Third, you do NOT have the right to dig up information on your friends and neihbors in the real world. Stalking, invasion of privacy, and theft are just three of the things you can be charged with by doing so. If you can't do it with "hardcopy" you shouldn't be able to do it digitally.

    Fourth, I did not state that the software and search efforts should, or would, be used by private citizens. I said it would be eaisier than people think, and for a large organiztion, say the Federal Government or State Government, it would be. Since we were talking about government regualtions, I thought it was implied....

    If you are dumb enough to sell yourself, or allow others to do so, then you can't be suprised about all the negative baggage that comes from being a whore. I, for one, refuse to do so. I don't win evertime, but that is a failure of the government, rather than myself, and I've pretty much resigned myself to being shafted by them. I'm not saying I like it, or that I don't fight it, but there isn't much I can do about it, either, except voice my opinion of it, and they'll be taking that away pretty soon, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bulk Mail, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 8:57am

    Bulk Mail

    How about an opt-out list for that Bulk Mail that you get at your house? Would LOVE to see that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Stevens, Dec 27th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    Tube Regulation

    The internet is not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. Tangled up tubes.
    I got an internet sent to me by my staff on Friday, I just got it yesterday.

    And you want your government to regulate what goes thru these tubes?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ferin, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 5:07am

    Decent grades for effort

    Eh, at least she's trying to come up with some decent ideas. I think part of the problem people have isn't so much that the info is available, as much that it's so easy to put so much of it together. I.E. I don't really care that some company knows I like certain books, or that I support the ACLU, or that I buy sex toys, it's the thought of having somebody able to go to one info broker or compiler online and get all thqat info on me together.

    That said, I think what she's really trying to address is some of the stuff barrenwaste said, where it's becoming really easy to circumvent older, totally legal ways of preventing your info from being public. Some of those technicques are still used, legitimately, to help abuse victims hide from their abusers, or just stop junk mail and other headaches, and new online services are making them a lot less effective. Granted, her solution doesn't work well, but it's a nice first step to open public discussion on the matter, and maybe start working towards some changes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    william rozar, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:53am

    Love

    It is a good article. I read very well. It is create my great interest and found that it is related with the real truth which is happen in the world. _________________________________ william rozar Connecticut Treatment Centers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This