The Internet Association is yet another well-funded special interest lobby group created to push the agenda of the digital data collection industry. While it frames its work as "Protecting Internet Freedom," its real role is to act as a political defense mechanism for the industry. When it serves their interests, it will fight against repressive proposals and policies that impact Internet users and their own role as conduits and providers of expression. But when it comes to challenging their basic business model which ensures a loss of citizen privacy and human rights, it will work to defend its own narrow concerns.
The Association recently held a event in DC where some of the panelists revealed why US online companies are working so hard to undermine a proposed EU privacy law. They idea that the US has a better system for privacy than the EU is a cruel (and inaccurate) joke. Here is (my bold) an excerpt:
An audience member asked if U.S. companies are too involved in the EU political process as they re-write EU data privacy regulations. Lindsey responded that U.S. companies are clearly impacted, so of course they should be involved. Gretchen also said that U.S. companies are the digital leaders with the most at stake in the maneuvering in Brussels. Absent a good outcome in the new data protection directive, taking the stricted privacy approach may end up being the only choice for a digital company doing business all around the world....In retort to complaints from foreign governments about the patchwork of U.S. privacy laws, Justin said that, "no other country has done more active enforcement of privacy protection" than the U.S., under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Europeans do what Justin called "pre-regulation" that requires prior authorization for any innovation and creates barriers. Some in the EU, Justin said, have even floated the idea that they should consider turning to a more American style of data protection and enforcement. In the end, Justin said, one of the most important things the U.S. needs to do is stand by its existing agreements, since commerce could collapse without the Safe Harbor.