Protect the Right of Contract and Privacy Will Follow

Published July 8, 2008

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Internet advertising could be the death knell of progress in the industry. (“Targeted Ads Raise Privacy Concerns,” July 8) While privacy concerns are important, the market should be left free to resolve them without government meddling.

The most crucial privacy question should always be, “What information can the government access without my knowledge?” Once it is established that individual rights are still protected, the issue becomes one of contract between consenting parties. Absent any fraud, Internet providers have every right to track their customers’ activities. If customers want to keep their actions private, they can select to opt out of services like NebuAd’s. If that is not an option, they can switch to a different provider. As the authors note, consumer demand for such added choice has already prompted response from providers.

It is important to notice that the market is already adapting without any government action. It would be a great disservice to Internet customers, and a violation of our liberty, if the Senate committee hearing on this topic led to more regulation. Those of us who enjoy the informational benefits of having our Internet activity tracked have a right to seek such a service in the marketplace, the personal privacy concerns of others notwithstanding.

Ryan Krause ([email protected]) is a legislative specialist intern at The Heartland Institute in Chicago, Illinois.