by Ude Lu, UMN Law Student, MJLST Staff.
On April 18th, 2013, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was passed with wide spread controversies. CISPA aims to help national security agencies to investigate cyber threats by allowing private companies, such as Google and Facebook, to search users’ personal data to identify possible threats. Commentators argue that CISPA compromises the Fourth Amendment, because, under CISPA, agencies can get privacy data of suspects identified by the privacy companies without a judicial order. CISPA bridges the gap between crime investigations and the privacy data stored and analyzed by social media companies.
Google and Facebook regularly track their user’s online behaviors, such as websites they visited or products they purchased, to figure out their personal preferences to perform targeted advertisements. These personal behavior analyses raise serious privacy concerns. Omer Tene and Jules Polonetsky in their article published in Volume 13 Issue 1 of the Minnesota Journal of Law Science and Technology, “To Track or “Do Not Track: Advancing Transparency and Individual Control in Online Behavioral Advertising“ discussed these privacy concerns.
Tene and Polonetsky described that while targeted advertisement provides many advantages, one particular criticism is that users are deprived from meaningful control of their data. This led to various administrative proposals in the US and EU. In the US, FTC proposed “Do Not Track”, a signal sent by users’ browser to internet content providers requesting them not to track cookies. In the EU, the e-Privacy Directive required an opt-in consent for cookie tracking. The authors argue that whether cookie tracking should be “opt-in” or “opt-out” depends on how tracking is valued by the society. If the society in general values tracking as a positive measure to provide valuable services, then opt-out should be applied. On the contrary, if tracking is viewed by the society as an invasion to privacy, then opt-in should be applied.