WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX, co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, told attendees of the Direct Marketing Association's 2000 Government Affairs Conference here yesterday that since there is so much data about individuals floating around on the Internet, the government needs to set some basic ground rules.
The bipartisan caucus was formed earlier this year by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, who co-chairs the caucus with Barton; Rep. Edward Markey, D-MA; Sen. Richard Bryan, D-NV; and Barton.
The privacy group is expected to address several federal- and state-level issues, ranging from the implementation of more safeguards over consumers’ financial data to the possible regulation of patients’ medical records and how they are transmitted over the Internet.
Barton said his interest in privacy issues “is not because I don’t want direct marketers to make money … it’s because the average American citizen doesn’t know how much data is available on them.”
He also said he believes the DMA is making a good-faith effort “to internally regulate and self-police its organization. But for those of you who say, 'We’re doing a good job — Washington leave us alone,' my question to you is: What about the people who are not in the organization? What about the people who are kicked out of the organization?”
On the legislative front, Barton said he doesn’t think we are going to see a stand-alone privacy bill during this session of Congress but that there probably will be some privacy measures added on to nonprivacy bills this session. These measures may address financial or medical privacy.
However, Barton said he expects to see a stand-alone privacy bill in the next session of Congress — but probably not until late 2001.