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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Obama has the Democratic Party’s nod as its presidential candidate in November; something that still has to be confirmed at the August convention, so now is the best time to evaluate his credentials as a supporter of consumer privacy. McCain didn’t take long to appraise, because he has no real positions on this important issue, must less addressing the problem of identity theft. Unfortunately, Obama lends little to the right to privacy movement in the way of specifics.

He, as did McCain, sent his representative, Daniel Weitzner, to the annual Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference recently in New Haven, Conn. In a Los Angeles Times Blog, Weitzner says Obama wants to “preserve and enable the growth of the Internet with its current openness properties.” Further, that the candidate is “committed to strengthening privacy laws…” So far, only generalities. In more of the same, wants to make government more transparent, and was outraged over his confidential passport files being looked at.

As compared to Hillary Clinton’s introduction of privacy legislation—although nothing has passed so far—Obama has not brought any bills forward for the protection of consumer privacy. Back in February of 2006, on the floor of the Senate, he attacked the PATRIOT ACT as overreacting to law enforcement power at the expense of individual rights. In a campaign blog published in December of 2007, he mentions the “P” word five times in his belief that a person’s privacy must be balanced with the protection of the nation’s security.

Ideas are great, but consumers need to know now, today, how their names and personal data will be protected starting in January 2009. It certainly hasn’t been in the last seven and one-half years.

Turning to health privacy and Pogo Was Right/Chronicles of Dissent re. Obama, the same thing happened here that happened to me when asking the campaign a question, and requesting an interview on the candidate’s positions. A quick response that they would get back to me, then I began to receive unsolicited campaign mailings, but never had my questions answered, nor any additional information. I even contacted the guy in charge in Arizona, but still heard nothing. Not a way to encourage votes. Pogo found no evidence the Senator ever addressed health record privacy, except for his “Plan for a Healthy America,” which you can see here.

Finally, in a presidential announcement speech February of 2007 in his home state of Illinois, one of his major points was to “Safeguard our Right to Privacy.” Again Obama mentions the “P” word seven times, rambles about the need for privacy protection, and says he will strengthen privacy and hold government and business accountable for violations. He just doesn’t say how he’ll do it, or even give us a hint.

How could we be entering the general election phase of the 2008 presidential election without one of the contenders talking about how they will stop identity theft, the biggest threat to voters’ privacy that has come along in years? If the candidates don’t care about the privacy of the individual in general, let them at least address the number one consumer fraud today: ID theft. If no one does soon, maybe the slate for president isn’t complete yet.

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