House Subcommittee OKs Privacy Commission

BOSTON (06/15/2000) - A House subcommittee Wednesday amended and approved a plan to create a commission to study the issue of privacy on the Internet, as well as in employment and other areas.

"This is to study the whole issue and see where we are and where the problems are, to examine the spectrum of privacy and where we need to be going with it," said Bonnie Heald, a spokeswoman for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

The legislation for the proposed commission will now be considered by the House Committee on Government Reform, Heald said.

If approved, H.R. 4049, the Privacy Commission Act, would create a 17-member commission that would be given 18 months to delve into privacy concerns and make its report, she said.

Among the topics that are likely to be pursued by a commission are consumer privacy on the Internet and in employment matters related to financial and medical records, Heald said.

An amendment was passed and added to the bill yesterday that would increase the group's budget to US$5 million, up from $2.5 million.

Critics, however, are wary that the commission would stall needed reforms.

Privacy advocates and the Clinton administration recently testified against the bill on the grounds that creating a study commission would give legislators an excuse to delay privacy legislation already pending in Congress.

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