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14 May 1998
Thanks to DN

Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 02:06:09 -0400
Subject: AP: Gore To Announce Privacy Initiative

Gore To Announce Privacy Initiative
Filed at 11:52 p.m. EDT 13 May 1998
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Citing new threats to personal privacy from technology,
Vice President Al Gore will announce a broad initiative Thursday to restrict
access to medical records, a senior Clinton administration official said. 

Billed as "an electronic bill of rights," the effort also will include an
administration-ordered review of how federal agencies handle citizen data
and a government Web site on how people can stop companies from getting
personal financial data on them. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the administration official said
Wednesday that the initiative seeks to "bring our tools up to date with the
new technological realities that we face." It was to unveiled by Gore in a
commencement address at New York University. 

Gore will urge Congress to pass legislation to restrict access to individual
medical records. Indiviuals would have the right to learn what is in their
records and a chance to correct them under the proposal. But access to data
already available publicly, such as criminal records, will not likely be
affected, the official said 

Deirdre Mulligan, an attorney for the Washington-based Center for Democracy
and Technology, said current privacy laws regarding medical records deal
most with alcohol and substance abuse treatment. 

"Federal law provides little privacy protection," Mulligan said, "and
state law is a patchwork of fragmented and inconsistent and not very
comprehensive protection." 

As part of the initiative, an agency-by-agency review of the government's
existing privacy practices will be ordered, the administration official
said. The White House Office of Management and Budget also is being directed
to develop and issue guidelines on how agencies can protect private
information, especially in cases where they collaborate with state and local

Gore also will announce a new "opt-out" World Wide Web site,, 
to be run by the Federal Trade Commission. The site will include instructions 
on how people can prevent companies from pre-screening their credit reports, 
prevent drivers' license data from being sold and remove their names and 
addresses from direct-mail and telemarketing lists. 

The vice president was not expected to mention the administration's
controversial and somewhat disjointed approach toward encryption -- the
scrambling of electronic messages to avoid prying eyes. 

The Justice Department and FBI want law enforcement to have the capability
in criminal investigations to thwart encryption software and unscramble
messages. They also want limits placed on what American-made encryption
software can be sold overseas. 

The Commerce Department contends that tight U.S. export restrictions have
already opened the market overseas to competing, foreign-made software that
doesn't include the mandatory "key recovery" program that lets law
enforcement penetrate it. 

"It's something they'll get called on, and appropriately," Mulligan said,
referring to the administration's approach to encryption. "You can't have
privacy without security."