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White House Internet privacy committee puts out charter

Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, left, and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.

The White House’s inter-agency committee on Internet privacy will come up with a white paper and policy and legislative guidelines in its two-year term, according to a charter statement (pdf).

White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Senior Adviser on Technology Philip Wiser said the group would draw members from more than a dozen agencies to look at privacy issues that stem from electronic health records, smart electricity grids and cloud computing.

The group, formed last month, comes amid increasing concerns over privacy flaps by U.S. companies such as Google and Facebook on how those firms handle user data. Google has faced increased scrutiny by European regulators for its Street View mapping service and its accidental data breach of residential Wi-Fi networks from cars that roam streets around the world for the mapping application.

But privacy advocates say that without a mission to create rules or laws, the group could favor corporations who resist government attempts to limit their ability to collect, store and share user data with advertisers.

Following are the group's three main tasks:

1. To produce a white paper from policy work taking place at the Commerce Department and Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is expected to release a report within weeks with policy recommendations on how to protect Internet users from harmful business practices.

The charter is sensitive to business needs, with White House officials saying the group will "examine the role of governments in ensuring that national regimes do not unduly impede the innovation and efficiency gains derived from leveraging a globalized network."

2. The group will come up with "general principles" for a domestic and global Internet privacy framework. That framework will reflect the work of White House efforts on cybersecurity and anti-counterfeiting.

3. The group will be the first stop for any government statements on privacy.

By Cecilia Kang  | November 2, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Privacy  
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