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U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced last week that he will hire a senior adviser for privacy matters for the Commerce Department. The adviser, who has yet to be named, will watch over the department’s Internet system and privacy policies, according to a department statement. “Many Americans rely on the Department of Commerce Internet system for a wide range of statistics, data and other information,” Evans said in the statement. “I recognize the importance of consumer privacy, and we should lead by example.” Despite Evans’ statement, privacy advocates are still waiting for the new Bush administration to make a more concrete demonstration of its commitment to data privacy protection. While on the campaign trail last year, President George W. Bush declared that privacy was an important issue. So far, though, his administration has concentrated on other matters, such as pushing for a $1.6 trillion tax cut. Bush decided last month to allow a sweeping new medical-records privacy rule to go into effect, over the objections of many in the health care industry. But the administration has signaled that it will not appoint a privacy czar to oversee data policies throughout the executive branch, as former President Bill Clinton did. An administration spokesman has said Bush will select a deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget to serve as the federal government’s CIO, with “a significant focus on privacy protection and Web site security.” The Electronic Privacy Information Center announced Monday that it has filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with the Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Treasury departments, as well as with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. EPIC is seeking memoranda, appointment books and other records of administration transition teams and senior officials in the departments and agencies, in order to study what the administration has done so far regarding data privacy. “With this series of information requests, we will be able to gauge the administration’s commitment to privacy protection,” EPIC staff counsel Chris Hoofnagle said in a statement. Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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