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    Hill: Privacy tops telecom agency’s agenda with Strickling at helm

    The Hill talks privacy and Internet issues with Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the agency with primary responsible for advising President Obama on telecommunications and information policy.

    NTIA, an agency within the Commerce Department, was founded more than 30 years ago to advise the president on telecommunication issues and to manage how the federal government uses the airwaves.

    But as the Internet has become a central feature of daily life and an engine of global commerce, NTIA has stepped forward as one of the primary federal agencies for setting online policy. […]

    [Strickling] said the agency’s changing priorities “reflect the growing importance of the Internet.”

    One of the policy issues on NTIA’s agenda is privacy protection. The agency is leading discussions between Web companies and consumer groups about how best to safeguard people’s information online.

    The discussions grew out of the White House’s “Privacy Bill of Rights” — a list of principles to guide how Web companies handle people’s personal information.

    The White House’s guidelines aren’t legally enforceable, so the goal of the discussions headed by NTIA is to develop codes of conduct tailored to specific industries. If a company agrees to follow a code but then violates it, federal regulators could sue the company for deceiving customers.

    But Strickling said the codes of conduct are no substitute for action from Congress and said lawmakers need to enact privacy protections into law. […]

    He said privacy violations can cause real harm and pointed to data breaches that reveal personal or financial information. Clear rules for online privacy, he said, would build trust and encourage e-commerce.

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