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    Computerworld: Public wants online privacy rules, U.S. official says

    Computerworld reports on the current debate over privacy legislation and administrative regulation:

    There are several challenges and paradoxes to deal with as U.S. lawmakers and agencies examine ways to strengthen online privacy laws, said Daniel Weitzner, associate administrator in the Office of Policy Analysis and Development at the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

    The U.S. has “robust” privacy rules for some industries, but there’s a growing call for baseline privacy rules, Weitzner said during an online privacy forum sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Technology Policy Institute (TPI), two Washington, D.C., think tanks. The NTIA and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Commerce, began considering the policy options for online privacy about a year ago, but they haven’t issued a formal position on whether additional rules are needed. […]

    There’s little agreement over what new privacy rules should look like, however, Weitzner said. There are examples of older privacy laws that have worked, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which encourages consumers to share their data but protects them from misuse, he said.

    Other speakers questioned the need for tougher rules. There have been few studies about the potential impact that new privacy rules would have on the online advertising market, particularly behavioral advertising, said Thomas Lenard, president of TPI, a think tank favoring free market approaches. […]

    Others at the forum called for new privacy regulations. The government should allow companies to create innovative privacy tools, but there will be abuses by some companies that cause the need for “enforceable rules of the road,” said Michael Calabrese, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

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