Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Privacy on the Internet

To the Editor:

Re “How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent” (editorial, Feb. 3):

Fewer than five clicks. That’s all it takes to change privacy settings on your favorite social media or streaming service. You’d be hard pressed to find a brick-and-mortar service that gives its customers the same granular control over their information as internet companies offer.

There’s no denying that terms and conditions are long and complex; no one wants to read through 30 pages of fine print. But the internet didn’t invent lengthy contracts. We encounter and agree to them all the time, including when we purchase airline tickets or car insurance, join a supermarket loyalty program or sign up for a gym membership.

Online platforms, unlike most traditional business, proactively create contextual tools that help people better understand and control their privacy settings. Contrast that with cellphone carriers selling our location to bounty hunters or magazine publishers selling our subscription information to data brokers.

Companies across every sector of the economy collect and use consumer data. That’s why we support an economywide federal privacy law that requires real transparency and meaningful control over how data is collected, used and shared.

Michael Beckerman
The writer is president and chief executive of the Internet Association.

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