US Report: Industry efforts to protect online privacy falling short

Industry efforts to protect the privacy of people and businesses on the Internet are falling short, White House Adviser Ira Magaziner said Wednesday.

While he still has hope that the online industry will come forward with some concrete recommendations and proposals on how to protect privacy over the Internet, Magaziner said at the Internet and Electronic Commerce conference in New York that he does not believe the ideas will come in by the July 1 deadline set by President Clinton.

"I couldn't give [industry efforts] a passing grade yet, but there is time, and my hope is that they will get something done," he said.

Magaziner said the government does not want to get involved in drafting codes of conduct for the Internet or in regulation in general, but that some steps must be taken to ensure people's privacy. The U.S. is also feeling pressure from the European Union, which has set an October start date for a strict privacy law.

"If the private sector doesn't act on its own, then eventually the government is going to have to act," Magaziner said.

On other electronic commerce fronts, Magaziner said there have been a number of promising developments in recent weeks. A proposal for an international, private consortium to oversee the issuance of Internet domain names could get the go-ahead as early as next week. There also has been strong international support to declare the Internet a "duty-free" space and to place a moratorium on Internet taxes.

Clinton's Internet right-hand man said he does not plan to keep his post until the end the current administration. He added, however, that he does not have any specific date in mind for his departure.

"I want to see these projects through. I'm not going to bail out," he said

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