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Telecoms Fund Their Own “Privacy” Group (ROFLMAO)

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November 18, 2008

In “are you serious?!” news, the Washington Post reported yesterday that a new group, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), has been formed to “help shape standards around how companies collect, store and use consumer data for business and advertising.” Who makes up this illustrious group? Ah, well. Your usual suspects — lawyers, privacy scholars and (wait for it)…corporate officials.

Talking Points Memo fleshes out the story and brings some much-needed skepticism to the Post’s take:

Corporations understand that stricter privacy regulations are coming, no matter what they do. So they’re trying to get out in front, by funding an advocacy group that appears to put them on the right side of the issue, but will almost certainly work to ensure that whatever reforms are put in place won’t be too onerous for internet companies.

TPM goes on to ask the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for their opinion on FPF. EFF’s response? “Um, who?”

If EFF wasn’t consulted and we weren’t consulted and neither of us had even heard of the group until their coming out party yesterday, what does that say about the agenda of the Future of Privacy Forum? Not to toot our own horn, but come on. If privacy scholars are being lined up to work with this group we would’ve heard about it — we do dabble in privacy work of our own. Just because the privacy community values privacy doesn’t necessarily mean we keep secrets.

Remember the FISA fight? The idea that there is now a group called the FUTURE OF PRIVACY FORUM being funded and led by corporations who sold out their customers’ phone records and conversations (aka “consumer data”) to the government without warrants or oversight would be funny if it weren’t so unspeakably bleak. First you get immunity. Now you want to set policy? Dude. The future of privacy is screwed.

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