Coalition Asks Legislators to Sign Privacy Pledge

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The Privacy Coalition, which is an alliance of 18 groups, has asked federal and state lawmakers to sign a privacy pledge that supports federal privacy safeguards and supplementary protections.

"The conventional wisdom in Washington now is that some kind of privacy law is going to pass this year, at least regarding the Internet and possibly more," said Jason Catlett, president of privacy group Junkbusters Corp., Green Brook, NJ. "The big question is, what will be in this law? What we're gearing up for here is a sustained campaign during this Congress."

By signing the pledge, legislators would be stating their commitment to strong federal legislation that would not pre-empt state legislation, according to Catlett.

The framework for privacy protection included in the pledge is based on the following criteria:

• Fair information practices, including not only notice, choice, access and security, but also correction, use limitation and redress.

• Enforcement by an independent agency.

• Endorsement of technologies that limit personal data collection and restrict surveillance.

• Federal legislation, state legislation and industry self-regulatory standards.

If legislation is passed based on the principles set forth in the pledge, it would make for a strong privacy law, Catlett said.

"A disturbing number of the bills introduced so far have been very weak," he added.

The organizations in the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumers Union, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Junkbusters, National Consumers League, Privacy Foundation, Privacy International and Privacy Times.

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