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The Right To Be Forgotten

Web tracking is all the rage with advertisers.

Social media sites are continually changing their privacy settings and revealing more than we are comfortable with. Privacy advocates aren’t happy…and consumers are annoyed.

In response to these concerns, the Obama Administration unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” as part of a comprehensive blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections and ensure that the internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

The blueprint will guide efforts to give users more control over how their personal information is used on the internet and to help businesses maintain consumer trust and grow in the rapidly changing digital environment.

The U.S. could learn a lot from the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council “on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data Article 17 provides the data subject’s right to be forgotten and to erasure and has made the personal data public to inform third parties on the data subject’s request to erase any links to, or copy or replication of that personal data.”

The White House Office of the Press Secretary document, “In the Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World,” a framework for protecting privacy and promoting innovation in the global digital economy states:

“Americans have always cherished our privacy. From the birth of our republic, we assured ourselves protection against unlawful intrusion into our homes and our personal papers. At the same time, we set up a postal system to enable citizens all over the new nation to engage in commerce and political discourse. Soon after, Congress made it a crime to invade the privacy of the mails. And later we extended privacy protections to new modes of communications such as the telephone, the computer, and eventually email.”

Privacy is a basic human right. If advertisers, social media and the companies that sell advertising tracking tools don’t tone it down or offer some mechanism for opting out, either the government or consumers will revolt. The time is now to find a happy medium, or else many of the free online services will either shut their doors or cost consumers more than they are willing to spend, either in cash or privacy.

Read more posts by Robert Siciliano, Online Security Expert to McAfee and blogger for JenningsWire.