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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why the Democratic Party is NOT the Party of Privacy

It goes without saying that a GOP Congress is never going to stoop to the level of championing the protection of consumer privacy. If anything, “W” wants to take away as much as he can, and his Congressional brigade is certainly making it easy. It’s been a year since the major data breaches of 2005, and have you seen any meaningful privacy legislation come from Washington? So, where do we turn, to the Democrats? Another not. Here’s why.

Reporting on the 2000 Democratic National Convention, had an article by Lisa Bowman: “Are Democrats the Privacy Party?” If you read this article posted in August of 2000, and if you are a Democrat, you’d think there’s hope for the protection of your privacy, and it was your party that was going to do it. Caroline Kennedy said they would. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y supported this move, as well as Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. So, what happened?

Nothing, but a lot of rhetoric, with no substance, at least from the federal lawmakers. To cap this off, I just received a mailing from Democratic National Headquarters entitled, “2006 New Directions Survey,” with a questionnaire and request for donation. It’s from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, who is the House Democratic Leader.

The survey talks about the mission of the Democrats, its leadership, and goes on to cover six issues: the economy, Social Security, foreign policy, education, the environment, and health care. It was received March 2, 2006…once again, a year from the first data breach, and not one word about privacy, much less how you can prevent your name and personal data from being ravaged by ID thieves.

It took State Senator Liz Figueroa of California to pass bankable legislation in January 2005—even before the data breaches—that would eventually expose the incompetence of data brokers like ChoicePoint and LexisNexis. Her “Shine the Light” law has been the foundation on which Congressional leaders, in their bumbling way, have tried to mold federal legislation to curb the identity crisis.

Aside from really getting nothing done, the Washington politicos are steering bills in a direction that will actually dilute state laws like Figueroa’s. And, she’s a Democrat. Congress seems bent on protecting business, over the interests of the consumers who are their constituents. That’s you, by the way.

In January, Computerworld, in an article, “Three more states add laws on data breaches,” by Jaikumar Vijayan, talks about adding three states to the twenty that already have data breach laws. More states are sure to follow. Despite the fact that fifty-one different laws would pose an insurmountable task for business, and the fact that this Congress is likely to pass anemic legislation that would supersede all 51, this is still not getting to the heart of the real problem.

Back to the soapbox. We need to pass federal legislation that will give every individual control over their name and personal data, which would include paying them anytime this private information is sold. Period. If I haven’t convinced you of the need for this legislation by now, I need to know where I failed, and why you don’t agree.

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