Massachusetts gets privacy deadline
- By Nicholas Morehead
- May 11, 2001
Massachusetts has given state agencies a June 8 deadline to clarify privacy
policies on state Web sites.
In Executive Order No. 412, acting Gov. Jane Swift directs all state agencies to outline their
the protection and sharing of citizens' personal data. The move to clarify
and, in some cases, draft privacy policies results from a statewide initiative
to improve Web services. But it also comes as a result of citizen complaints
must disclose a policy outlined in Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
The deadline was generally welcomed by agency spokespeople, saying it
would help build confidence in online government.
But Robert Smith, publisher of Privacy Journal, says that the move can be seen as a pre-emptive strike
against cries of hypocrisy from Massachusetts businesses, which were served
with a similar mandate a year ago.
Companies, according to Smith, could argue that they are being ordered
to clarify privacy policies from a government whose own agencies have muddled
policies, if any policy at all.
But Dominick Ianno, a spokesman for the state's Department of Administration and Finance, dismisses those claims. "This
is...a proactive policy that we deemed to implement as we enter into a new
era of e-government," Ianno said.
"We have 160 different Web sites, and with our initiative on e-government,
we are trying to bring all of them together, to conform them in terms of
Smith ranks Massachusetts in the top 10 in overall state privacy, and
thinks such a mandate from the governor is for the greater good, adding
that "it wouldn't surprise me if other states followed suit."
E-government is a priority for Massachusetts, which has earmarked $93
million during the next six years for its statewide portal (www.mass.gov).