Seasoned web users are well aware that the websites you visit and the search engine queries you employ are monitored and analyzed in a general sort of a way to allow web companies to sell advertising targeted to specific subsets of people. Casual users are often surprised and unnerved at the amount and type of information that is gathered about them on the web, and caution about the downstream effects of having the information available is growing. Numerous legislators are looking into regulating the amount and type of information that can be collected, and whether or not any information should be collected without the specific consent of the web user. New York assemblyman Richard Brodsky is one.
So he drafted a bill, now gathering support in Albany, that would make it a crime — punishable by a fine to be determined — for certain Web companies to use personal information about consumers for advertising without their consent.
And because it would be extraordinarily difficult for the companies that collect such data to adhere to stricter rules for people in New York alone, these companies would probably have to adjust their rules everywhere, effectively turning the New York legislation into national law.
“Should these companies be able to sell or use what’s essentially private data without permission? The easy answer is absolutely not,” said the assemblyman who sponsored the bill, Richard L. Brodsky, a Democrat who has represented part of Westchester County since 1982.
It's easy to be snarky about how ill-informed politicians are about the Internet. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens will go to his grave famous as the guy who thinks the Internet is a "series of tubes." But politicians really don't know much of anything specific about much of anything anyway. It's really not their job to be experts about any particular thing. In a way, they will act as a perfect arbiters for the worries of the clueless on the Internet. They are clueless on the Internet. Hmmm. I guess they are experts, after all.