Karl D. Belgum


Concern about privacy on the Internet runs high, but the prescriptions for treatment vary widely. Privacy advocates seek different goals when formulating policy proposals. Some seek to protect individuals and society from the effects of loss of privacy, including the loss of human dignity. Others seek to encourage the development of online markets in personal information, so that consumers can profit from their own information, rather than giving it away. Still, others seek primarily to promote the growth of e-commerce, and see privacy fears as a threat to that goal. These goals are fundamentally inconsistent, and that inconsistency is obscured by the fact that much of the current debate about online privacy focuses on the tools of regulation, rather than the goals for which regulation is sought.