Ashcroft taps privacy watchdog

Attorney General John Ashcroft named a chief privacy officer for the Justice Department last week, a move that was widely expected.

Dan Collins, associate deputy attorney general, will advise senior department officials on privacy issues that will include:

n The privacy implications of technologies used by law enforcement agencies in crime investigations.

n The department's obligation to comply with laws protecting citizens' privacy when it collects information in the course of its operations.

n Justice's responsibility to enforce existing laws protecting personal privacy from unlawful invasion, whether in the public or private sectors.

n Consideration of any proposed legislation or regulations that address key privacy issues.

"I trust [Collins] to make certain we are taking precautions to protect the right to privacy that every American deserves," Ashcroft said in a July 24 statement.

Ashcroft told privacy advocates in April that he was going to name a pri.vacy official, so his announcement generated little surprise.

"It is not surprising that he took this seriously and followed up on his commitment to get somebody in place," said Ari Schwartz, a policy analyst for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington, D.C., privacy group. "It was one of the major things he focused on" as a senator from Missouri.

Collins graduated from Harvard University and Stanford University Law School. He was a clerk for Judge Dorothy Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and was a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, a Los Angeles law firm.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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