Obama administration to appoint ‘web privacy czar’

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama would reportedly introduce a more aggressive approach towards Internet privacy, pushing new laws and appointing a czar to oversee the initiative.

The battle over more government control of the Internet has been raging for years, as civil liberties groups have expressed concern over government intervention in private-sector computers.

However, with the increasing use of personal information to drive Internet advertising, the Obama administration appears ready to at least tackle what has been a politically a difficult problem, the New York Daily News reports.

The US reportedly lags behind countries like Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom in terms of having laws protecting consumer privacies.

“Better late than never. I am glad more and more folks, in the government and otherwise, are beginning to realize that there is a war against privacy,” Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) said.

The new policy, which comes on the recommendation of a U.S. Commerce Department report, would be a large-scale change in a relatively unregulated web. Currently, advertisers and companies are largely expected to regulate themselves.

The paper quoted Mike Zaneis, senior vice president at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, as saying, “We believe we are living up to consumer-privacy expectations and are very advanced in privacy protections and innovation.”

Earlier this month, Google had settled a class-action lawsuit after users sued when they said their privacy rights were violated with a new Google product, Google Buzz. Facebook, which is also the target of many consumer advocates, is set to launch its own email next week, giving them perhaps more access to consumer data.

This is not the first time that the government has stepped in to protect private and public interests on the internet. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have used cybersecurity advisors to help the government prevent internet attacks on highly vulnerable banking, energy and communications systems, the paper said. (ANI)

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