Going Overboard On Privacy Could Hurt Web Consumers
In the Internet age, everyone is understandably more leery about their privacy. No one wants “the wrong people” to have access to their personal data. Or even “the right people” for “the wrong reasons,” for that matter.
Still, there is an element of paranoia in the privacy rights campaign that, if left unchecked, could do more harm than good. Thus, our concern is focused on a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C.
S. 2201, which was approved by the Commerce Committee in a 15-8 vote, would lay out overly restrictive regulations governing the collection and disclosure of “sensitive” personal information by Internet service providers or operators of commercial Web sites.
Insurance companies and agents are rightfully speaking out against the bill, which the industry contends could undermine or perhaps even terminate the online sale of insurance. If that turns out to be the result, it would be a blow to consumers, who would have a valuable option denied to them in buying coverage.
Of course, insurers certainly haven’t done a great job selling insurance online. Our own tech editor, Ara Trembly, has done a series of first-hand reports in which he has documented the difficulty in buying coverage over the Web, as well as the ridiculously wide range of prices quoted online on the same type of policy.
But as time goes on and Internet commerce matures in financial services, insurers will almost certainly get their acts together and establish the Web as a standard shopping option for consumers–one which should expand the market and lower costs while empowering consumers.