Privacy Agenda for the Future of Privacy Forum Wants Policy Change

By January 20, 2009

The Future of Privacy Forum wants change in the policy limiting the use of cookies in government Web sites, among others things. According to their agenda for the new administration, the public expects certain site features that are not possible with the current policy which limits functionality. The policy also prevents some analytics tools that could improve efficiency. The agenda's first priority is to appoint a Chief Privacy Officer to promote fair information practices in the public and private sectors. In addition to a Chief Technology Officer, there is a need for a senior level cabinet member to ensure that data protection is a central consideration for technology, data, and policy decisions. Many of these decisions are concerned with how the government collects data by using interactive tools such as cookies and social media. Goals include setting collection limits and deletion dates for all of this data as well as for increasing user transparency and privacy, and funding research to create technology that will further this agenda.

Other priorities include establishing a standard definition of personal information, as well as to allocate more resources and infrastructure to the Federal Trade Commission. This will be for technology, research, as well as improved criminal law enforcement to combat child predators, identity theft, and other digital criminal offenses. Additionally, goals include resolving the conflict between privacy and online youth safety and encouraging accountable online business models

Not all privacy advocates believe that the Future of Privacy Forum's proposal has civil liberties at the foremost. "I think we want to keep the government out of the data collection business," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the privacy group Center for Digital Democracy. As Chester was quoted Thursday in MediaPost , the agenda does not take into account civil liberties, referencing a "Big Brother state we'd rather keep as fiction."

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