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    Network World: Commerce Department scrutinizes Internet privacy

    Network World reports that the Department of Commerce is focusing on the issue of online privacy:

    The U.S. Commerce Department Wednesday kicked off an initiative to take a close look at how the privacy of individuals is impacted broadly in the Internet economy with the goal of providing advice to the White House on how both the president and government policymakers might regard the topic.

    “Because of the vital role the Internet plays in driving innovation throughout the economy, the Department has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation while promoting an environment respectful of individual privacy expectations,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. […]

    According to one Commerce source, the idea for a broad-based privacy-policy review related to the Internet has been mulled for a few months.

    The source at the Commerce Dept.’s National Telecommunications and Information (NTIA) agency, who spoke on background, says the goal is to take a close look at a broad swath of the Internet economy to understand the impact on the privacy of individuals that make use of online services of all kinds. […]

    While there’s been a ‘light touch” applied to privacy issues in the past, the Commerce Dept. now is intent on getting a clearer picture of what is happening “in the nexus of privacy and innovation on the Internet,” the NTIA source points out. Policymakers and the president as well consider this an important topic and the goal is to provide the White House with advice, including possibly policy direction for the future.

    In order to foster a dialog with industry and the broader public, the Commerce Dept. will hold a public meeting on May 7th to discuss privacy policy in the United States. It will be held in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

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