State bills push tech firms toward feds
- By Jennifer Jones
- Aug 24, 2000
Fearing a slew of privacy bills from state governments, a group of high-tech
giants are signaling that they might be amenable to new federal legislation
if given a big enough stake in the process.
Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., and EMC Corp. are among companies
getting out front on this new stance, which represents a dramatic reversal
of industry's determination to avoid new legislation at all costs.
"Our view is that a new law worded correctly, that offers consumers
choice and control over the information used about them" would not be a
bad idea, said Michael Maibach, Intel's vice president of governmental affairs.
But not everyone is aboard the bandwagon yet. "We hear that there are
some who are ready to jump into bed with the regulators who feel they
must do something," said Orson Swindle, a member of the Federal Trade Commission,
speaking at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's technology policy conference
in Aspen, Colo., this week. "My words of wisdom are `Don't yield on this
right now.' "
Privacy advocates and others are increasingly invoking the threat of
multiple-state privacy bills to swing industry opinion in the direction
of federal legislation.
"The reason this industry is going to need self-regulation is to protect
you from government. When states get more involved, it could be death by
50 cuts," said Jerry Berman, executive director of the Center for Democracy
Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and others agreed that the landscape could
become more clouded with state privacy legislation now cooking in California
and several other states that would bog down federal legislation efforts.
Hutchinson and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) have backed a bill that would
establish a commission to examine the privacy issue before federal legislation
could be passed.
Copyright 2000 InfoWorld, International Data Group Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by IDG News Service.