I appreciate the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) motivation for issuing its warning and believe that it will change the minds of those who have an active conscience, and have been operating outside the guidelines. The problem is the people and organizations who have no such moral compass, focusing single-mindedly on making money, at any cost.
When we view success as a zero-sum game, i.e., that he who has the most money, regardless of how he makes it, wins - and everyone else loses – we all lose. Not to get too existential here, but the fact is that the Universe gets it, sees it and does what it needs to do to balance itself. In all matters, large and small.
Self-regulation is a very high-minded ideal. With the right set of guidelines and/or boundaries, it can be mightily effective.
But it has its limitations. There are always people and companies who act as if the rules don’t apply to them. I get it: We all want to fight against “The Man”, and sometimes it’s actually the right thing to do. But when you are benefiting financially or otherwise from other people’s private information – which they haven’t explicitly given you permission to capture, use and spread – that isn’t getting one over on “The Man”. At the very least it’s unethical; the FTC and courts will ultimately decide if it’s criminal.
The idea of actually giving back something that was taken wrongly never happens without a revolution – in thought if not action. When the dust settles, privacy will have to be wrestled from the cold, dead hands of the mercenaries who stole it