Bill proposes commission to study privacy legislation

Two senators introduced a bill Wednesday to form a commission to study how effective current federal privacy legislation is, especially in relation to the Internet, and to determine whether new laws are necessary.

The Privacy Protection Study Commission would be made up of nine experts from the legal, civil rights, privacy, business and information technology communities. The panel would conduct an 18-month study of the Freedom of Information Act and the Electronic Freedom of Information Act and then report its findings to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"If legislation is necessary, the commission will be in the best position to recommend a balanced course of action," said Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.), co-sponsor of the bill. "And if lawmaking is not warranted, the commission's recognition of that fact will help persuade a skeptical Congress and public."

Unlike other countries, the United States does not have clear laws that pertain to privacy and the Internet. Legislation has been a patchwork at best, and the commission would help bring the efforts into focus, said bill co-sponsor Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).

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