Senators Thompson and Kohl Introduce “Citizens’ Privacy Commission Act”

WASHINGTON _ Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred
Thompson (R-TN) and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) today introduced the
“Citizens’ Privacy Commission Act,” legislation which will establish
an 11-member commission to examine how federal, state, and local
governments collect and use our personal information, and to make
recommendations to Congress on how to map out government privacy
protections for the future.

“In these times of rapidly changing technology, people are uncertain
and fearful about who has access to their personal information and how
that information is being used,” Chairman Thompson said. “A recent
poll shows that Americans perceive government as the greatest threat
to their personal privacy, above both the media and corporations. The
Citizens’ Privacy Commission Act will address people’s concerns about
the potential misuse of their personal information by the government.”

“As we consider federal privacy guidelines for the private sector, the
government should follow the highest privacy standards and demonstrate
not only that they are preferable, but that they work. This
legislation would create a commission to examine how the various
levels of government collect, use and share information about
citizens,” Senator Kohl said. “The time has come for Congress to
enact reasonable and thoughtful privacy legislation, and this bill is
a sensible first step in that process.”

The Citizens’ Privacy Commission will investigate all aspects of
privacy in the government, such as FBI e-mail interception, IRS data
security, agency web site privacy, as well as the current applications
of the Privacy Act of 1974 and other laws addressing government
privacy practices.

Last month, Senator Thompson released the preliminary findings of
agency Inspector General reports on Internet privacy revealing that
over sixty sites were using unauthorized information- gathering
devices. Senator Thompson’s work on protecting privacy has also
included a series of investigations and hearings on the security of
government computer systems; sponsoring the Government Information
Security Act, which passed as part of the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001; and sponsoring amendments to
curb abusive information-gathering practices of the Federal

Cosponsors of the Thompson-Kohl bill include Senators George Voinovich
(R-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Susan Collins
(R-ME), and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL).
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