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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Naughty and Nice -- Parting Shots
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A bit late to the parade, a few contributions to Ray's list of 2003's Naughty and Nice:

Lumps O' Coal -
The California Assembly - Privacy Laws. On July 1, 2004, the California Financial Information Privacy Act takes effect and will allow consumers opt out of information sharing by financial institutions and their affiliates or partners. Following in the manner of the uber-costly and entirely unsuccessful federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley regulation of privacy notices issued by financial institutions, the California law specifically details the form that consumers will receive. Surely this will keep the paper-products industry happy and may even move the U.S. Postal Service into the black though it won't actually protect the privacy of Californians. (Thanks to Jim Harper's end-of-year privacy memorandum for the pointer.)

Viral kids who wreck havoc on our lives (and their software creations too.)

Responses to August electricity blackout that focus on new government "reliability standards." Secretary Abraham noted last month that at least four existing reliability standards were not observed by one participant in the blackout while another pair of standards were not met by a second participant. An interim report on the causes of the blackout is available and it is safe to say that a lack of regulation was not the cause.

Delicious Treats -
Michael Powell and the FCC for rescuing the wildly popular Do Not Call list from legal limbo at the FTC. I maintain that the political and legal implications of a list maintained by the federal government to prevent the reach of legal commercial endeavors from our households are numerous and largely negative, however the Do Not Call list as envisioned by Chairman Tim Muris was a political masterstroke. At once he took off the table far-reaching limits on commercial speech and activity, costly attempts by some states to regulate interstate advertising and self-styled consumer advocates' who saw the Congress as fertile ground to demagogue against the use of information to lower the costs associated with finding new customers. Muris gave Members of Congress an easy way to do something - fund the list - without running significant risk of new "privacy laws". In a more positive light, the Trade Commission reminds us all that the government can play a positive role to limit annoyance and to prevent economic harm in the marketplace. Do Not Call is in the anti-fraud traditions of the FTC and serves as a preventative against more costly and damaging policy alternatives.

The Website Team at The Progress & Freedom Foundation for a major overhaul to our principle and digital means of communication with the world.

Bloggers who offer links to primary sources along with their observations.

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