Privacy

NSA Reform: Not Dead Yet

The Hill
Patrick Eddington cites ITIF’s research on the economic impact of PRISM in this op-ed.

WhatsApp Encrypts User Messages Following Google, Apple

Bloomberg
Technology companies are using new encryption tech to thwart snooping by hackers and government spies.

Tech Industry Ups Pressure on Congress to Pass NSA Reform

Newsmax
The U.S. Senate plans to vote this week on reforms to the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance program.

Silicon Valley Privacy Push Sets Up Arms Race With World’s Spies

Bloomberg
Citizens don’t want the companies they are handing their information over to handing it over to government agencies, says Daniel Castro.

Balancing Privacy, Innovation and Economic Growth

The Economic Cost of the European Union's Cookie Notification Policy

November 6, 2014
| Reports

In 2009, the European Union sought to regulate HTTP cookies—small text files are sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website—as part of their “e-Privacy” Directive, forcing all European websites to not only post their cookie policies, but also to seek the consent of each visiting user for the use of those cookies. This report finds that the total annual cost of this law is $2.3 billion dollars per year. This figure includes both compliance costs for European website operators and productivity costs. Given these costs and the law’s limited demonstrated benefits, European policymakers should abolish this largely symbolic “feel good” law for the sake of the European digital economy.

This report explores how not only is the EU privacy directive’s cookie policy costly, it also offers little to no benefits for EU citizens. In fact, by raising costs for website operators, it reduces the revenue available to develop quality online content and services for consumers. By requiring websites to notify users of all HTTP cookies, the policy may discourage many uncontroversial uses of cookies such as personalization which improve users’ online experiences. This policy also ignores that even when cookies are used to deliver targeted advertising, this largely benefits consumers with better ads and website owners with higher revenue they can use to provide higher quality consumer experiences. Additionally, users have filed few complaints about how websites are using cookies. The UK’s ICO received only 38 complaints regarding cookies between April and June of 2014, comparable to 9,000 complaints for automated sales calls during the same period. Answer ing this trifling number of complaints is not worth the law’s financial burden given the fact that the ICO also has noted that the majority of cookie complaints are “vexatious, personal, and time wasting.”

Several European Union and member state policymakers have begun looking at the cost-benefit analysis of this law a few years after its original implementation. As the European Union and its member states begin to revisit the e-Privacy directive, they should recognize that continuing to implement this cookie law is costly both to economic productivity and individual European websites. Furthermore, if the ICO’s experience is any sign of this law’s public mandate, it is unwanted in Europe as well. The European Union should act expeditiously to rollback this burdensome directive for the good of its digital economy and the ease of web surfing of its citizens.

The Right To Be Forgotten

November 5, 2014
Alan McQuinn debates the pros and cons of the Right to be Forgotten around the world.

The Right to be Forgotten—the ability for individuals to request that search engines remove links from queries associated with their names if those results are irrelevant, inappropriate, or outdated—may be spreading to Asia. Watch Alan McQuinn debate the pros and cons of the Right to be Forgotten around the world.

Amazon to Open German Data Center to Soothe European Concerns

Financial Times
Backlash from PRISM could cost U.S. cloud providers up to 20 percent of the foreign market.

ITIF Submits Comments to the National Science Foundation Regarding a National Privacy Research Strategy

October 17, 2014
| Testimony and Filings

To ensure the potential benefits of data-driven innovation are attained, the U.S. federal government should support research efforts to address the most pressing privacy and security research questions faced by industry and government. This filing describes five areas—healthcare, transportation, criminal justice, education, and social media—where additional research is needed on how to share data while best preserving privacy.