Obama Admin. Wants Internet-privacy Watchdog

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The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration will announce a new “stepped-up” strategy for dealing with online privacy, including a privacy watchdog, when the Commerce Department releases a new report in the coming weeks.

The news comes just a few weeks after the White House announced the creation of an Internet privacy subcommittee, involving officials from a number of federal agencies.

“In this digital age, a thriving and dynamic economy requires Internet policies that promote innovation domestically and globally while ensuring strong and sensible protections of individuals’ private information,” wrote the two Justice Department officials Cameron Kerry and Christopher Schroeder, tasked with leading the privacy subcommittee.

The recent ‘Net-privacy initiatives are a “turning point” in the federal government’s Internet policy, according to WSJ.

“Recent administrations typically steered away from Internet regulations out of concern for stifling innovation,” WSJ reports. “But the increasingly central role of personal information in the Internet economy helped spark government action, according to people familiar with the situation.”

The Commerce Department’s report won’t recommend specific legislation, but reiterates that having private companies self-police themselves doesn’t go far enough, according to WSJ.

But Computerworld reports some industry advocates and free-market proponents think Internet-privacy regulations would have a chilling effect on Internet advertising.

President of the free-market think tank Technology Policy Institute Thomas Lenard told Computerworld new regulations could lead to less effective ads and poorer-quality web content.

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