Sovern Publishes Op-Ed in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Privacy

Professor Jeff Sovern has published an op-ed, Business Forum: Data brokers peddle information for their own selfish interests, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Professor Sovern concludes:

Congress should create a single website that consumers can visit to opt out of the collection of information on their transactions.

The options should be detailed enough so that consumers who want merchants to know of their interests in some things can indicate that, while still blocking sale of other information.

Merchants that collect information about consumers should be obliged to respect consumer choices, just as telemarketers must honor the “do-not-call” list. Merchants should be able to sell information about sensitive subjects, like illnesses, only if consumers affirmatively grant permission to do so.

Privacy policies should be standardized, brief, written in plain English and link to the opt-out website. If the result is fewer free websites, at least that will reflect what consumers want, rather than what businesses have decided for them. I may now be cancer-free, but until Congress acts, I am also privacy-free.


One Comment to “Sovern Publishes Op-Ed in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Privacy”

  1. Medical information should never be sold because of HIPPA, and social security numbers should never be sold, but I have no problem with other info being sold as long as the person is an adult. Sometimes, the information can be useful. It can be used to verify info that someone is giving or to find a person for legitimate purposes or to satisfy a judgment, etc.

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