back to article The pro-privacy Browser Act has re-appeared in US Congress. But why does everyone except right-wing trolls hate it?

A bi-partisan law bill that promises to give internet users far greater control over their privacy made another appearance in US Congress on Thursday. The proposed law would require ISPs as well as social media giants to get user consent before collecting and selling their data, and force those same companies to continue to …

  1. RonWheeler

    2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

    Come on Reg, a real discussion rather than Trump SUX fnarfanr tedium please.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

      ". It is deliberately promoted as one thing while doing something else entirely."

      Doesn't that describe most proposed legislation since they invented proposing legislation ?

    2. kierenmccarthy

      Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

      Fake news!

      It was more like 60 per cent facts, 15 per cent analysis, 10 per cent commentary, and 10 per cent ad hominem attacks.

      1. Gunboat Diplomat
        WTF?

        Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

        Personally, I found it frustrating I had to wade through 22 paragraphs before reaching the actual reason to be concerned about the bill (which admittedly is a very good reason). Please could there be a little less commentary / scene setting next time or at least put the commentary at the end?

        1. kierenmccarthy

          Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

          Well, the point of the story was to dig into why this apparently good and clear legislation was not being backed. Despite containing language that would appear to fit in with the current, largely bipartisan, political agreement.

          The bill will most likely go nowhere and we don't write stories about every bill that's proposed, so the "angle" was to understand what was going on in this case and why. Besides when an article says "Comment" up top it's a fair bet it will contain some commentary.

          So in answer to your question: no, and get over yourself.

          1. georgezilla

            Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

            " ... when an article says "Comment" ... "

            See, that's your problem.

            You assume that they actually understand the meaning of the word "comment".

            When it is quiet clear by their "comments" that they don't.

      2. KittenHuffer
        Coat

        Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

        So what is the other 5 percent then?!?

        Mine's the one with the slide rule in the pocket!

        1. STOP_FORTH
          Boffin

          Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

          Funny type of slide rule that lets you add and subtract!

        2. kierenmccarthy

          Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

          The other five per cent?

          Gags, of course!

    3. paulll Bronze badge

      Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

      Usually I'd agree but when there's an unrepentant criminal in public office, and even moreso a rabble-rousing hateful fascist in a position of power, I think it's a matter of common decency to rail against the bastard as best and as frequently as one can, until he's dead or imprisoned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

        As much as I dislike his politics I am equally disdainful of the identitarian politics of the left, where everyone must fit into a demographic and be defined by that. Were language must be governed by laws so feelings aren't hurt etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: equally disdainful of the identitarian politics of the left

          Between racism and "could you be a bit considerate" you're equally disdainful. Much like there was good and bad on both sides in Charlottesville.

          Sorry, but fighting fascism isn't the same as being racist. People don't choose their ethnicity but they do choose to be racist.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: equally disdainful of the identitarian politics of the left

            Ah completely ignore the identitarian element huh?

            It's interlinked with the "don't disagree with me" method of communication favoured by the left. It's equally as dangerous as racism IMHO and is why we have Labour tangling itself in knots over antisemitism. They replace the race with Israel and go full pelt down what is essentially just racism by another identity.

            1. georgezilla

              Re: equally disdainful of the identitarian politics of the left

              " ... IMHO ...

              You do understand that by using "IMHO", it makes your comment anything but "humble", don't you?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

        "there's an unrepentant criminal in public office"

        That statement describes the entire elected class. (at least in the US and UK)

    4. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

      I looked to see who wrote it just after reading the title. Seeing the words "Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco" I knew exactly what the tone of the story would be. More of an editorial opinion piece than proper reporting...

      1. kierenmccarthy

        Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

        I love that you imagine pointing out that I'm writing an article in San Francisco achieves anything other than undercutting whatever point you make next. Whatever you assume "San Francisco" means - some hodgepodge of stereotypes, no doubt - I'm not it, I'm afraid.

        Anyway to your point: "More of an editorial opinion piece than proper reporting."

        1. It says Comment right up the top

        2. So I take it your were aware of the Browser Act, and who has authored it, and their creation of a tech task force, and when that task force was announced, and the details of Blackburn's previous legislative stances on this issue, and the fact that the ANA and NetChoice opposes the Browser Act, and the criticism of it laid down by Feld and Eshoo, and the California privacy law and the impact of the Browser Act on it?

        Because if you weren't, then you'll be surprised to discover that information came to you by means of reporting. And if you were - then why the hell do you read the article in the first place?

        In summary: you're a twat.

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: 2 percent facts, 98 percent ad hominem attacks

          "In summary: you're a twat."

          Well that's nice. Kiss your mother with that mouth? Clearly I cut a little too close to the bone there. Perhaps you need to go and quietly think about some life choices? I did not mention SF or any opinion of the residents thereof. Anything you read into that is purely some kind projection of internal thoughts.

          It is you that I was pointing at and your self congratulatory righteousness.

          And more than double the number of voters agree that you're overly biased. Think about it....

  2. Fazal Majid

    It has nothing to do with being pro- or con- privacy. It has to do with which industries she is shillng for. Telcos want to gut privacy laws that would block their ability to sell marketing profiles collected by deep packet inspection, but at the same time they want to hobble their Google/Facebook webco competition.

    1. stiine Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner here!

  3. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Name Sounds Like An Old-Fashioned Blackpool Landlady...

    A rather excitable article...

    The Browser Act's opt-in approach is "vague and confusing" according to the ANA

    With utter loathing of the advertising Industry, it is fair to say they may be right here, as far as it concerns their home audience as they strut on comment sections of US media, here suggesting Mrs. Obama is a male; here suggesting Trump is an operative for the KGB; here suggesting the other 1st World countries have a far higher rate of homicides than America, but just conceal it through cunning and stealth.

    .

    Still, however noisome Madam Blackburn may be, the penalty for such condescending demeaning words as:

    We will be reaching out to the Chairman and her staff to express our concerns about the definition of 'sensitive user information' in her bill and in order to assist in trying to find a better and more balanced approach to this critical issue."

    ...deserves rolling in a carpet and being kicked to death, as in the way of Mongol anti-colonialist freedom-fighters.

  4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    More privacy is good isn't it?

    Article» Well, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) hates it because it would make the process for gathering and using user data opt-in. This is a critical distinction and one that privacy advocates are fully in favor of: companies would be required to get users to say Yes to having their information stored, rather than gather the information and require them to figure out how to say No.

    The Browser Act's opt-in approach is "vague and confusing" according to the ANA and will "bombard consumers with annoying consent notices." You won't be surprised to hear that the ANA has created its own "privacy self-regulatory program to assure and enhance this type of oversight."

    I understand that the bill's proponent has a disreputable past but what it proposes would be a good thing, wouldn't it? Fazal Majid's point is taken but more privacy-protection is still better than the current state of affairs. After reading the article, I'm not really sure why there is hate for it, other than the usual partisan antagonism.

    Unless, of course, the proposition of the bill is a polite way of asking tech giants like Google and Facebook for massive campaign contributions...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "the Browser Act contains no rulemaking authority"...

      ... "contains no civil penalties and pre-empts state laws"

      This way, it looks more a useless law that would pre-empt stricter ones, and still let the surveillance/slurping company do whatever they like.

      Did the CAN-SPAM act ever reduce spam?

    2. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
      Boffin

      Re: More privacy is good isn't it?

      The opt-in requirement is strictly for "sensitive user information", which the bill defines as thus:

      (A) Financial information.

      (B) Health information.

      (C) Information pertaining to children under the age of 13.

      (D) Social Security number.

      (E) Precise geolocation information.

      (F) Content of communications.

      (G) Web browsing history, history of usage of a software program (including a mobile application), and the functional equivalents of either.

      There's an opt-out requirement for most everything else. An exception to all this is made for "protect[ing] the rights or property of the provider", which stands out to me as one of the iffiest parts, but I'm not a lawyer, so this might be more problematic:

      (2) COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934.—Insofar as any provision of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) or any regulations promulgated under that Act apply to any person, partnership, or corporation subject to this Act with respect to privacy policies, terms of service, and practices covered by this Act, the provision or regulations shall have no force or effect, unless the regulations pertain to emergency services.

      Other than that, it seems pretty straight forward.

      (The article links to the last Congress's version, so here's the link to the current bill)

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: More privacy is good isn't it?

        Thereby missing many data regarded sensitive in EU:

        • personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs;
        • trade-union membership;
        • genetic data, biometric data processed solely to identify a human being;
        • data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation

        Not surprising, noting from what political area it comes from (but of course "financial data" must be protected, heavily, I guess...)

        Note also the "precise geolocation" - without defining what precision (1km? 100m? 10m? 1cm?)

  5. Dr_N Silver badge

    Defend Our Great Dogs (DOG) Act

    Dog Owners' Graded Gourmet Index for National Gain Act, Shurely?

  6. U920088

    Thank you!

    Thank you for writing this!!! Ms. Blackburn represents my state in the Senate and is nothing more than a spokesperson for President Trump (who is responsible for getting her elected).

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Thank you!

      She's a republican working under a republican president. What do you expect? Also how, exactly, did pres. Trump get her elected? Surely the voting public did that.

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: Thank you!

        You're assuming a trump voter can think for themselves...

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: Thank you!

          As crass as saying that any voter can't think for themselves.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: Thank you!

            It's the old false consciousness, innit ? The Will of the People is Paramount, but those voting against [ INSERT BELIEFS HERE ] don't really understand, and are voting against themselves and the Paramount Will, so really their votes can't count as part of the People's Choice.

            Education ! Always more Education ! Once recidivists have been properly re-educated, then they can take part in the Suffrages of the Peeple, and have their voices count.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thank you!

          Ah the left's identitarian politics.. unable to understand any point of view but their own. So tolerant..

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Thank you!

            Ah the left's identitarian politics

            You're responding to one individual, so why instead do you choose to use a gross generalisation to demean a very broad group of people by claiming its politics are those of gross generalisation? Mustn't you accordingly despise gross generalisations?

          2. georgezilla

            Re: Thank you!

            " .. left's identitarian politics ... "

            See here's where people show who it actually it is that uses "identity" in their politics

            As an example, being "left" ....

            I see two ADULTS, in a loving, caring, committed relationship that want to get married. And I say, sure why not?

            And on the "right", the question asked is are they "gay" or "lesbian"? Fallowed by all kinds of BS as to why they shouldn't be afforded the same opportunity.

            The same question that was asked about "race". One was a person of color ( other then white ) and the other was a person of color ( white ).

            Who was/is it that is actually writing laws based on "identity"? To keep someone from marrying? To keep someones vote from counting? The northern border of the U.S. is just as, if not more so, porous as the southern one, but the problem is with the southern one because of "identity".

            So just who is it practicing "identitarian politics"? Not me, the "leftie" I really don't give a shit "what/who" they are. But you do. I'm not "identifying" them. you are.

            " ... unable to understand any point of view ... "

            Sorry. I actually do understand your point of view. And I defend your right to have and express it. I just think that it's a effed up point of view. And I have the right to call it and you out on it.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Thank you!

        "Surely the voting public did that."

        Not exactly. Trump narrowly lost the popular vote. He became President because of the electoral college.

        1. M.V. Lipvig

          Re: Thank you!

          Yeah, funny, isn't it? Trump, a newbie to US politics, won the electoral vote against a professional politician with decades of experience under her belt, with a huge network of similar professionals. How do you suppose this happened?

          Quite frankly, it happened because Clinton felt she was owed the Presidency, and that people would rather vote for her than Trump. She also assumed that California and New York were the only states that mattered. She ignored a lot of traditionally Democratic states, assuming they would just vote for her. They didn't.

          Incidentally, the Electoral College was put into place to specifically prevent a Presidential candidade from winning using Clinton's campaign strategy - without it, only the 10 largest US cities would have a voice in the elections. With the Electoral College, all 50 states get a say.

  7. eldakka Silver badge

    will "bombard consumers with annoying consent notices."

    Surely it wouldn't be that hard to make a browser plugin that just auto declines and hides any and all opt-in dialogues. It could have an icon/button on the plugin bar (right alongside uBlock Origin, uMatrix and/or whatever your favourite script-blocking plugins are) that you could click on to get a list of requested opt-ins so you can opt-in if you wish to. Then no annoying consent notices.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Let's be clear : nothing in the bill is forcing pop-up notices on users. It is the ad companies who are going to use pop-up notices to try and get consent. Because they cannot simply go with no consent by default, and if someone changes their profile to accept, then gather details.

      That would be a privacy-respecting, adult way of doing things. It would also not bring in any money.

      So, pop-ups it is.

  8. ratfox Silver badge

    "it would make the process for gathering and using user data opt-in"

    Sounds to me that this would fix the issue in US like GDPR fixed it in Europe: By making people click a lot of pop-ups.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: making people click a lot of pop-ups

      I'm not clicking more pop-ups now than I was before GDPR, so I don't get your point..

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: "By making people click a lot of pop-ups."

      GDPR makes it illegal to withold content based on the user consenting to data capture so those pop-ups, if they stop you entering the site, are illegal.

      1. Halfmad Silver badge

        Re: "By making people click a lot of pop-ups."

        Yeah I'm not suing a site over this. I'll just go elsewhere..

      2. Snowy Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "By making people click a lot of pop-ups."

        They do not stop you withholding consent they just make it very very difficult to do so, whilst at the same time giving consent so very easy.

    3. georgezilla

      Re: "it would make the process for gathering and using user data opt-in"

      Pop-ups are not there so you CAN opt-in.

      They are there to annoy you so much that you just click on the "x" in the corner to make it just go the eff away.

      At which time they take that action as "opting-in", instead of the .....

      "NO I DON'T FUCKING WANT TO OPT-IN!"

      ... action that it actually is.

    4. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: "it would make the process for gathering and using user data opt-in"

      The pop-ups are only there because Americans can't grow the fuck up and stop expecting to spy on everyone as if that is normalcy.

  9. joeW Silver badge

    BROWSER Act

    Apparently stands for "Balancing the Rights Of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act"

    What the fuck is up with the Yanks having to slap torturously contrived backronyms onto every piece of legislation?

    1. Mk4

      Re: BROWSER Act

      Everything is marketing in the US - individuals have to market themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Laws have to marketed. The concept of the "free market" has found its way into every aspect of US society.

      Note: I am not saying that there are any free markets in the US or even the rest of the world (before someone tries to read that into what I have written.)

      Thanks

      Bye

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: BROWSER Act

        "individuals have to market themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc"

        They don't have to do that at all. I don't do any of that and I'm doing just fine.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: BROWSER Act

      Verbosity.

      Give an Act a short name such as Data Protection Act and everyone can remember it.

      1. joeW Silver badge

        Re: BROWSER Act

        In my former life as a call center phone drone, we derived some giggles from the "DP Training Sessions" we were occasionally expected to attend.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: BROWSER Act

      You'r right - it's a load of CRAP (Can't Really Absolve Politicians) when they do THAT (They Had A Task)

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Consent.

    "The proposed law would require ISPs as well as social media giants to get user consent before collecting and selling their data."

    They already do. But the bit where you actually give them that right it is normally buried on page 12 of some impenetrable set of T&Cs and caveated by them actually saying something like "we MAY transfer your data to 3rd parties to improve your experience blah... blah... blah..." i.e. something entirely different that if do chose to read and refuse would make the service unusable.

    What it means at present is that you cannot actually refuse these terms if you want to use and modern services such as internet, apps, mobile phones etc.

    And it is only getting worse, with more and more normal retail companies seemingly now wanting my data when I buy something over the counter.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Consent.

      "And it is only getting worse, with more and more normal retail companies seemingly now wanting my data when I buy something over the counter."

      Yep. "Would you please visit our website (store.giantadfirm.com) and fill out our survey" and they'll happily give you a small glass of sugar water with your next purchase for giving them a load of your private information that's tagged to the code on the receipt that pinpoints the date, time and store you patronized.

      The staff never seem to get my statement that they aren't paying enough for my information (I'd lie anyway).

  11. robert lindsay
    Big Brother

    Sad State

    I was born in TN and while it has a disturbing love for a native slave trader/war criminal the men it sent to the US Senate had by and large been quality. Howard Baker, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, Al Gore (both junior and senior). In 2018 the Dems nominate a very popular former govenor against Blackman who always has been a trump troll. He lost by 10 points. And much of her support came from the area of my hometown, which actual staged a revolt against the confederacy in 1861 that was brutally put down.

  12. MachDiamond Silver badge

    They need to get to the core.

    The Big Data companies need to have a suite of regulations applied to them the same way as the credit reporting agencies. It's not just opting in/out here and there, the problem is much deeper. The big aggregators harvest public government information on a vast scale and there is no way to opt out of that. Marriages, arrests (with no correlation to convictions), land titles, etc. I also wonder if those companies are also first in line on the dark web when PII is being sold from big breeches.

  13. M.V. Lipvig

    I dunno...

    I'm Conservative (and therefore a right wing racist troll according to the commies) and I am very pro-privacy. I'd like to see a bill requiring any company to get my express permission to have my data, or my likeness for that matter, even if I don't use their services. So, if Faecesbook has a picture of me on it, they'd have to either attempt to find me and get my permission, or delete the picture from their system AND from all backups. And, if they couldn't locate me within a week, be required to delete it anyway. Further, the systems of any company should be regularly audited, and any information they have that does not have opt-in authorization should require a 5,000 dollar fine per instance. Having it on their system and in their backups, constitutes 2 or more instances depending on how many backups they have. Further, third parties wanting access to my data should be required to get it from ME directly. They should not be able to get it from a company I opted in with. I may not like the third party company for whatever reason.

    So go on, tell me how I hate privacy again? Our data is valuable, obviously, so it's high time we protect it from being siphoned off with the law.

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