FTC page provides tools for hanging up on marketers

Tired of receiving those annoying calls from telemarketers just as you are ready to sit down to dinner?

If so, point your browser to www.ftc.gov/privacy to take a peek at the Federal Trade Commission's new World Wide Web page designed to inform the public on how to prevent credit bureaus, direct marketers and state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) from sharing personal information— the kind of information that may end up in telemarketers' hands.

While this page is short, simple and to the point, it provides several options for ensuring personal privacy in the increasingly open digital world. The page lists the three major credit bureaus— Equifax Inc., Experian and Trans Union Corp.—- and how to contact the bureaus as well as sample "opt out" forms to prevent the bureaus from selling personal information about you to marketers.

Another way to end the marketing blitz aimed at your household is to contact the Direct Marketing Association, which also allows you to avoid having your personal information doled out to various direct marketers and telemarketers.

If you think that private-sector entities are the only ones selling information about you, think again. Various state DMVs reveal information, such as details contained on a driver's license, to marketers.

However, a new federal law provides individuals with privacy rights in regard to information retained by the DMV, according to the Web site. While DMV officials are allowed to release information for such purposes as law enforcement and insurance underwriting, individuals have the right to opt out of having personal information distributed for other reasons. This Web page lists DMV offices by state with contact data and information about opting out.

Calling All Communicators

Vice President Al Gore last month unveiled a new Web page for the more than 500 members of the Federal Communicators Network—- a national organization for federal Web managers, librarians, newsletter editors, training specialists and others—- designed to help bring reinvention information to front-line federal workers.

Point your browser to www.fcn.gov to check out this new, informative page. Those who may be interested in joining the group may want to start by browsing the "Members" section to find out who can join and how the group is organized. Those who are already familiar with the group can head straight toward the "Calendar" section for an update on the latest events related to the group or its group members. "Reinvention News" keeps tabs on the latest news from the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), which organized the group.

Perhaps the best resource can be found within the "Weblinks" section, which provides a toolbox of resources for federal communicators to tap into as part of their quest to spread the word on reinvention projects.

Protecting the Infrastructure

Every federal agency will be affected by President Clinton's announcement last month of a new presidential directive of critical infrastructure protection [FCW, May 25].

Various agencies will be responsible for outreach activities for private-sector owners and operators of various critical infrastructures, and all agencies will be responsible for making an inventory of their own critical assets. Each agency also will be required to submit a plan for protecting these assets.

To learn more about this massive governmentwide effort, point your browser to www.ciao.gov to check out the Web page of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, which will be coordinating the federal government's effort to protect the nation's critical infrastructures.

Although it is a fledgling Web site with limited graphics, the office has promptly added new announcements related to the effort.

Click on "Information Resources" to access the summary of the new Clinton directive, a white paper that goes into more detail about agency responsibilities associated with the new program and fact sheets summarizing this complex effort. Stay tuned to this Web site for more details as this program develops.

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