He Reported on Facebook. Now He Approaches It With Caution. – The New York Times:

The United States has no basic consumer privacy law. So every individual has to be in charge of navigating the entire commercial-surveillance-industrial-complex on his or her own. Which is to say, it’s practically impossible for any nonexperts to protect their privacy in a meaningful way.

The privacy expert Ashkan Soltani, whom I’ve quoted in some stories, compares it to ordering a cup of coffee at a Starbucks and being told that the coffee may be loaded with arsenic, but that it’s up to you to figure out whether or not the coffee is safe to drink.

I’ve come to the view that no effective privacy-protection product is really possible without clearer — and probably more stringent — laws governing what data companies are allowed to collect and what rights I have to control my own information. If such laws did come into play, it would open the door to interesting private-sector privacy solutions. For example, California recently passed a law allowing consumers to “opt out” of many kinds of online and offline data collection. With such a law in place, new businesses can sell subscription services that would, for a fee, do all the opting out for you.