Keep Your Hands Off My Privacy

Two recent events – one in the public sector, one in the private sector – have helped to engage millions of Americans in a debate on privacy rights and information security: the debate over SOPA & Facebook employer hacking. These actions have led to robust debates, not just about what we as individuals can reasonably expect when we share – knowingly or not – our personal information, but what responsibilities businesses and governments that track and store that data should exercise on our behalf as consumers and citizens. For Congress, the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), with its broad powers for private information collection, prosecutorial discretion against suspected copyright theft and potential termination of websites that host pirated content, fostered swift, powerful rebukes from a large faction of protestors. While the intent of the bill and its counterpart in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, may be noble – to stop those who knowingly steal and distribute copyrighted material – an alliance of open government activists, technology companies and libertarians coalesced together to force serious revisions, perhaps killing it altogether. Most Americans oppose stricter regulations on content consumption and internet policing, and showed Congress that attempts to infringe on their internet rights would not be taken lightly. It appears you can still be anti-regulation and anti-piracy. Over the past few days, reports have surfaced that some...

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