Digital privacy – Net anxiety on rise

Protecting the privacy of Internet users is quickly becoming a major political issue in the U.S.

Americans want stronger safeguards for their online privacy and penalties for those who violate it, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Eighty-four percent of those responding to a Pew phone survey voiced concern about businesses or strangers getting personal information about them or their families, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 21.

Ninety-four percent said Internet firms and their top executives should be punished if they violate users’ privacy online.

As consumers become increasingly worried about the profiling and tracking of Internet users, many corporations are hiring privacy officers to protect that information, the Associated Press reported Aug. 20.

U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., believes the government should follow suit and appoint privacy czar to coordinate information-protection among federal agencies, the Associated Press reported Aug. 20.

Internet-user privacy tops the agenda of government and industry leaders at the 6th Annual Technology Policy Summit sponsored by the nonprofit Progress and Freedom Foundation this week in Aspen, Colo. 

Privacy concerns also have caught the attention of presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush and their party platforms. Gore favors an “Electronic Bill of Rights” for Internet users, while Bush’s GOP platform would allow companies to police themselves.

The House Government Reform Committee has approved a bill from Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., to create the Privacy Protection Committee to study electronic privacy issues and recommend congressional action.

For full stories go to The San Francisco Chronicle and AltaVista.

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