There have been several attempts to force the US telcoms industry to respect our privacy: to stop our ISPs from spying on us and selling our usage data to marketers, to stop the mobile carriers from spying on our location and selling the data to marketers (and, it turns out, stalkers and bounty hunters), and every attempt has fizzled, as telcoms lobbyists and telcoms-funded lawmakers have sold us out, saying that the privacy rules are unnecessary because the carriers wouldn't do anything too sketchy lest they suffer reputational damage.
The thing is, there's no way the carriers' reputation could conceivably get any worse: just as you can't libel a scoundrel, any revelation about carrier shenanigans will only confirm our view of telcoms as the worst industry in the country, with the worst companies in the country.
Relying on telcoms industry shame to rein in their worst impulses has repeatedly proven to be useless. Telcoms execs lie like crazy, and then when they get caught, they legeresplain and gaslight about it.
As Karl Bode points out, there's actually a pretty easy way to make sure the carriers stop abusing us: make it illegal, and enforce the laws.
Whether the solution is a new law or just the enforcement of existing rules, getting any serious location data reform efforts over the hump is going to require a critical mass of public outrage to drive meaningful change.
Whether the solution is a new law or just the enforcement of existing rules, demanding the protection of your private location data is going to require a critical mass of public outrage to drive change. Unfortunately, you're likely to see more and more scandals like the one Motherboard unearthed this week before the message finally gets through.
We Could Easily Stop Location Data Scandals, But We Cower to Lobbyists Instead [Karl Bode/Motherboard]