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Monday, June 02, 2008


I am impressed with Clinton’s proposing of privacy legislation, but, unfortunately, none of it has resulted in law. Her most courageous efforts are S. 3713, the Privacy Rights and Oversight for Electronics and Commercial Transactions Act of 2006 (PROTECT), and, S. 810, the SAFE-ID Act, both in the 109th Congress. Much of their failure can probably be blamed on a Republican-controlled Congress when each was introduced. However, when the Democrats took over in January of 2007, they had their chance to shine, but, of course, blew it.

On June 16, 2006, speaking before the American Constitution Society, Hillary laid out her plans for privacy and they are quite impressive. To begin, she says: “At all levels, the privacy protections for ordinary citizens are broken, inadequate and out of date...” Good start. Then comments on how “privacy and national security have gone hand in hand since America’s beginnings.” Followed by how the Framers adopted the Fourth Amendment to provide us this right, she said, “Privacy is not and should not be a liberal value or a conservative value. It is fundamentally an American value. It is a human value.” Sounds like we’re on the way but that was 2006.

That’s when she proposed her privacy Bill of Rights (S. 3713) to be encapsulated in the PROTECT Act, and introduced in Congress on July 21, 2006. Here are the protections proposed that would hold the government and the private sector responsible for the information they gather:

• the right to sue when those rules have been violated

• the right to protect your phone records

• the right to freeze your credit when your identity has been stolen

• the right to know what businesses are doing with your credit and credit

• the right to expect the government to use the best privacy practices itself with your information

Next, her Bill of Rights would prevent private cell phone numbers and their call records from being shared or sold. And the Senator feels strong about notification in the event of a data breach; not in days, weeks, or months, but immediately. Right on.

But her facts are flawed when talking about personal data that is sent overseas. Hillary says, as inadequate as U.S. privacy laws are, they are better than found "in most of the rest of the world.” Not true. Sure, if you’re talking about India or Pakistan, but the privacy standards set by the European Union are far superior to any law passed or proposed in this country. Her SAFE-ID bill (S. 810) would have made sure that consumers were notified when their private information was going to be sent abroad, and offered the opportunity to opt out.

Clinton wants another Privacy Czar like the one during her husband’s administration. Naturally, George Bush decided it wasn’t necessary in an imperialistic government. The Senator would have the privacy czar as a part of the Office of Management and Budget, with oversight into the workings of all government departments with the power to enforce the law. And when selecting this person, I would hope that the next president would allow the community of privacy advocates to have major input.

More Hillary privacy next post.

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