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Hell hath no fury like a privacy advocate scorned. At least, that might be the feeling of Robert Cresanti, the Commerce Department’s chief privacy officer. On Sept. 8, Cresanti was scheduled to meet with members of the Privacy Coalition, an umbrella group of 40 organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Rifle Association, and the Consumers Union. But according to a news release by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the coalition’s members, Cresanti skipped out and “the coalition was informed that he had made an impromptu decision to have lunch instead.” That didn’t sit well with EPIC, which issued a Freedom of Information Act request for every meeting Cresanti had attended from his appointment as privacy officer in mid-July to the date of the meeting. The results, according to EPIC: Cresanti had found time to meet 25 times with business lobbyists and corporate representatives. But Cresanti’s office says EPIC is the one out to lunch. According to a statement released by Cresanti’s spokeswoman, it was the Privacy Coalition that ended the meeting early. “He did not stop for lunch,” says the statement from Cresanti’s office. Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, says Cresanti hasn’t rescheduled the meeting. Cresanti says he hasn’t been reinvited. Despite the spat, Rotenberg says privacy organizations are anxious to discuss the handling of census data and export policies allowing the sale of surveillance equipment to China.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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