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The Federal Communications Commission issued a Privacy Order restricting the use of personal data by Internet Service Providers. Many consumer advocates hailed it as a bold step to protect personal privacy. Many Internet-based companies strongly disagreed. Shortly after the Trump Administration took office, the Privacy Order was repealed. This paper explains the controversies that led to the ultimate demise of the Order, assesses the debate using tools drawn from economic theory of the laws, introduces a new metaphor for privacy that could point to effective privacy rules, and finally uses the metaphor to suggest new directions for exploring privacy regulation.

Photo: iStock/Tero Vesalainen

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