Proposals to regulate the Internet are becoming as formulaic as a Nickelback song these days. [Insert government body] has called on [insert private tech company] to do [thing company already does].
So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer call on websites like Twitter and Facebook to create new privacy features to protect those that access the sites on public wifi connections.
As Schumer comically and erroneously explains:
“The quickest and easiest way to shut down this one-stop shop for identity theft is for major Web sites to switch to secure HTTPS Web addresses.”
Seems hard to believe that Schumer didn’t ever ask himself: If it is that simple, wouldn’t these sites have done it already? The answer is that it is not remotely that simple and companies are already working on it.
Facebook, for instance, has been offering a fully secured connection for over a month and has used a secure connection anytime a password is involved for quite some time. A Facebook employee used their official blog to offer the following sound advice:
“You should consider enabling this option if you frequently use Facebook from public Internet access points found at coffee shops, airports, libraries or schools.”
Even the oft-vilified infringer of privacy, Google, already has adopted the policies advocated by Schumer.
Why then is Schumer publicly calling out these incredibly profitable, unregulated web companies? The cynic in me certainly has a theory. Is this the first step towards government regulation of social media? Or, is this simply a tech ignorant politician looking to catch a headline. Let’s hope for the latter.