Boston Legal and Internet Privacy

So I was watching Boston Legal last night. Good for a chuckle. One thing I like is that they can use short courtroom sequences to make sweeping generalisations that sound soo good.

Last night was all about privacy in the internet. Basically they were suing a company that made sensitve personal information available via their website. The defence was that the company had followed "standards" for protecting its website and could not be liable for any information leaked from it or the misuse of that information. They lost.

In the real world, who knows. One of my own sweeping generalisations is that Americans seem to have a penchant for suing each other. Can't do that so easily down here.

After thinking about it for a bit, I actually think that the outcome was correct. By making companies liable for protecting customers information, we shift the responsibility and incentive for protection of private onto a larger corporate entity, which has the financial resources to do the job. If banks, insurance companies, health providers, online shopping sites, etc. were all liable for privacy breaches and other security holes, I bet that the internet would be come much more secure very quickly - because they'd pay for the required research.

Go Alan Shore!


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