- Hwang, Timothy [Browse]
- Senior thesis
- 100 pages
- Felten, Ed [Browse]
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
- Class year
- Restrictions note
- Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
- Summary note
- This thesis looks at the pressing policy question of how to regulate corporations
and entities that utilize consumer data amidst the growing number of devices
and applications that collect a myriad of data from geolocation to health data.
The current legal status quo involves leveraging a self-regulatory regime by
industry-organized groups. The question presented to policy makers is whether
or not these self-regulatory organizations have been effective at promoting
consumer data protection.
This thesis examines the historical and legal framework underlying the status
quo and draws comparisons from other self-regulatory regimes in industries vast
as tobacco, food, and forestry as well as the academic literature on selfregulation.
Furthermore, the thesis takes a closer look at the individual selfregulatory
organizations and attempts to measure the privacy standards of the
top websites visited by the United States as measured by Alexa. Finally, the
thesis examines international alternatives and comparisons to the American
The findings indicate that the self-regulatory regime underpinning data privacy
concerns have not worked and traditionally have not worked in other industries.
In fact, the purpose for the majority of these organizations has been to drum up
public relations and delay political support. Specifically in data privacy, most of
the self-regulatory regimes have not worked and the organizations have now
become defunct. As a result, in the context of the absence of legislation and
regulation (apparent in other countries), there is now a gaping liability in the
way Americans interact with their connected devices and the Internet. As a
result, we call for a baseline level of privacy with enforcement authority through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).