Congress gives out privacy advice
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Sep 21, 2000
"Know the Rules, Use the Tools,"
The Senate Judiciary Committee has compiled a guide, titled "Know the Rules,
Use the Tools," to help Internet users protect their privacy online.
"This issue is only going to get more and more hot and more and more
important, and we need to find some way to live with it," said Sen. Orrin
Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the committee, at Wednesday's Privacy Technology
Fair in Washington, D.C. "I hope consumers will find this handbook a good
starting place for becoming more informed about online privacy and some
of the options that are available to them for protecting it."
The handbook (judiciary.senate.gov/privacy.htm) gives a brief overview
of online privacy issues, updates readers on what legislative work has been
done and includes a list of resources, including company contacts on items
ranging from "cookies" to digital identity managers.
The guide recommends greater consumer education about what personal
information Web sites may be collecting, encourages the use of technology
tools to empower users, and urges the private sector to "engage in meaningful
self-regulation in order to avoid heavy-handed government regulation."
"This has to be driven by consumers and people using he Internet," said
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), co-chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus.
"I have long [endorsed] a go-slow approach and am confident the next Congress
will work on legislation in this area and define some minimum requirements,
but ultimately it's in the hands of the consumers."
The Privacy Technology Fair included demonstrations from myriad companies
working on privacy protection tools. Among them were:
* iPrivacy, which is working with the U.S. Postal Service on a private
shipping component that would give people the option of picking up a package
in person or choosing to have it held at the office location.
* Anonymizer.com, which uses proxy servers to block companies that use
cookies to track online activity.
* IDcide, which recently was invited by the Federal Trade Commission
to demonstrate how its technology alerts users when they are being tracked
online and by whom.