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CDT Looks Back and Ahead at Privacy

in Broadband's Impact by

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2009 – Even though it has been nearly a decade since effective pro-privacy legislation had been passed by Congress or pushed by the Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democratic Technology President Leslie Harris expressed optimism on the subject on Wednesday.

”While the stars aren’t in perfect alignment, they are moving to the right place,” Harris said at a press briefing.

She was referring to a number of technology companies, including HP, eBay, Google, Intel, Oracle, and Microsoft that she said had came out in support of privacy regulation.

Plus, House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Rick Boucher, D-Va., is interested in moving privacy legislation.

CDT emphasized the importance of privacy rules protecting against online behavioral targeted advertising, and against violations of electronic personal health records.

CDT Chief Operating Officer Ari Schwartz said that “behavioral advertising issue has really become a privacy cause of the left.”

He also noted concern about the merger of Google and DoubleClick in 2007. And he noted how broadband providers were seeking to engage in deep packet inspection, potentially violating the privacy of internet users.

Schwartz said he expected the Internet Advertising Bureau to weigh in on privacy issues, too.

Schwartz offered five areas in which privacy could be improved: (1) building technologies with user control in mind, (2) improvements in self-regulatory policies, (3) enforcement of existing laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (4) legislation of areas not covered by existing law, and (5) education of consumers, which is the central to having the other four areas work.

CDT Chief Computer Scientist Alissa Cooper said that the Apple iPhone Safari 3.0 browser has strongly privacy-protective features, and said that she hoped all browsers moved to this form of privacy.“The iPhone really hit the mark,” she said.

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