In the wake of reports that some internet sites collect personal information on children without their parents’ permission, President Clinton’s top internet adviser, Ira Magaziner, called on technology industry leaders to find a solution to the problem of privacy in cyberspaceor risk having the government do it for them.
“Right now,” Magaziner said, “privacy is not adequately protected on the internetand it has to be.” He called on consumer and business groups to agree to standards for telling internet users what will be done with any information they provide.
Magaziner’s remarks followed a report by the Federal Trade Commission in December warning of the data-gathering practices involving children.
The snapshot survey was not meant to be a comprehensive study. But the FTC plans a systematic review of internet information-collecting practice in March for a report to Congress. It will check how many internet sitesincluding children’s sitesare posting privacy policies.
Magaziner suggested that nonprofit watchdogs be set up to police the industry, granting a seal of approval to web sites that comply and taking action against those who fail to honor the industry’s code.
Magaziner addressed his comments to about 100 software and electronic commerce executives at the Internet Law & Policy Forum’s 1998 conference in Seattle.