Watchdog Planned for Online Privacy

Julia Angwin of the Wall Street Journal reports in an article dated November 11, 2010, that the Obama Administration is "preparing a stepped-up approach to policing Internet privacy that calls for new laws and the creation of a new position to oversee the effort."

According to the Journal, the new strategy is expected to be published by the U.S. Commerce Department sometime in the next few weeks.  However, people familiar with the strategy have noted that "the reports isn't yet final and could change."

Concurrently, the White House has "created a special task force that is expected to help transform the Commerce Department recommendations into policy."  That task force, "set up three weeks ago, is led by Cameron Kerry, brother of Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), the Commerce Department [G]eneral [C]ounsel's [Office], and Christopher Schroeder," Assistant Attorney General at DOJ. 

Online privacy concerns have recently begun to to bubble to the surface on Capitol Hill. Representative Joe Barton (R., Tex-6) said in response to the White House developments, "'[b]etter late than never.  I am glad more and more folks, in the government and otherwise, are beginning to realize that there is a war against privacy.'"

It is important to note, however, that the success of the strategy, and any related legislation, will face a Republican-controlled House.  While Republicans generally support online privacy, they are not expected to support "any bill to expand the enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission."  Complicating the issue, "privacy advocates will be reluctant to back legislation that lacks enforcement and is perceived as toothless."

In remarks made during a trip to Jerusalem in late October, U.S. Commerce Department Assistant Secretary Lawrence E. Strickling said of the status quo "'[i]t's difficult for consumers to act in their own interest if the law doesn't meet their basic expectations.'"  Mr. Strickling "cautioned that the coming report isn't a final position statement, but rather the beginning of a 'dialogue' that would lead to an official administration policy on information privacy."



The full article can be found above, or here

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

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Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

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Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

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is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography