*Privacy May Be Big Issue for This Congress

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Internet privacy will be one of the top issues of the 107th Congress, which convened for the first time yesterday, according to reports.

Insiders said that while no one bill will come forward on privacy this year, there will instead be dozens of smaller privacy bills introduced, much like in the last Congress.

Congress is expected to debate whether to impose privacy guidelines on Web sites and whether those guidelines should stipulate that sites can disclose personal information only if Web users opt in. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-SC, said he would reintroduce legislation this Congress with that requirement.

Insiders also said that unlike in the last Congress, privacy legislation will most likely be passed this Congress. One reason is because unlike other types of legislation, privacy is a nonpartisan issue. Partisan legislation, such as taxes and education, is more likely to be stalled this time around because of a sharply divided Congress. Republicans will narrowly be in charge of the House, and, for the first time since 1881, Democrats and Republicans will hold the same number of seats in the Senate.

Congress will choose new committee chairmen today.

DMers are wondering whether Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-LA, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Consumer Protection, will be named the House Commerce Committee chairman this Congress, replacing the retired Rep. Tom Bliley, R-VA.

While Tauzin sided with DMers when he supported extending the moratorium on new Internet taxes for another five years during the last Congress, he also introduced legislation prohibiting public broadcasting stations from sharing their donor lists with political groups.

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