Focus Point - Protecting Privacy

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Information technology has made society much more transparent. Personal, medical and financial information can be used by insurers, marketers and employers.

So, many want to craft privacy laws to prevent it. But overreaction is just as bad; we don't need laws that infringe on the freedom of speech of those collecting the data.

Most information-gathering, in the long run, is as useful to individuals as to those collecting it. And strictly speaking, individuals don't have a property right to information about themselves. But they do have the right to enforce contracts that restrict the use of information they provide.

These could include, disclosure on what's being collected and how it's used; agreements on the confidentially of the information collected; and requirements to post policies on how to view information and correct inaccuracies.

By acting reasonably, and not treating information technology as a big brother lurking in the shadows just because we don't understand it, privacy can be protected in a sensible way.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, space for hire.