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DHS' privacy officer moving to GE

Nuala O'Connor Kelly, the Dept. of Homeland Security's privacy officer, is leaving government for a similar position at General Electric, News.com reports.

Nuala O'Connor Kelly, the Dept. of Homeland Security's privacy officer, is leaving government for a similar position at General Electric, News.com reports.

O'Connor Kelly's acting replacement will be Maureen Cooney, who is currently the Privacy Office's chief of staff and senior advisor for international privacy policy, the department said Friday.

Congress in 2002 created the Privacy Office to be a watchdog over the impact of new technologies and government programs on privacy. O'Connor Kelly's appointment came at a time when the Bush administration was fielding criticism about its data-mining ventures, including Total Information Awareness and CAPPS II, an airline screening program.

 The ACLU praised her performance and is taking the opportunity to call for more independence for the post in the future.

Now is the time for Congress to give the privacy chief post more teeth, ACLU legislative counsel Tim Sparapani said, pointing to a pending measure introduced in June by Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.

"We understand that a truly vigorous and independent privacy officer can be inconvenient for government officials over the short term," Sparapani said in a statement. "But over the long run, vigorous checks and balances will strengthen the Department of Homeland Security by inspiring greater public confidence in DHS programs."