It’s time to try something different on Internet privacy

Neil Richards, Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law and co-director of the Cordell Institute for Policy in Medicine & Law


Since the dawn of the Internet, American regulators and companies have pursued two goals to protect our privacy: that people should be in control of their data and that companies should be transparent about what they do with our data. We can see these goals detailed in the privacy policies and terms of service that we “agree” to as well as companies’ increasingly complicated systems of privacy dashboards, permissions and sharing controls.

This approach has failed us. Too often it has resulted in little more than threadbare privacy protections and cluttered inboxes. The control that companies promise us over our data ends up illusory and overwhelming. And even when they act transparently, they don’t embrace the privacy reforms we need.

There’s a better way, but it requires us to reimagine the relationship between consumers and online companies in a way that places trust at the center. Being trustworthy in the digital age means companies must be discreet with our data, honest about the risk of data practices, protective of our personal information and, above all, loyal to us — the data subjects. And it’s up to our lawmakers to make it happen.

Read the full piece in the Washington Post.

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