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July 24, 1992

CPSR Recommends NREN Privacy Principles

WASHINGTON, DC -- Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility (CPSR), a national public interest
organization, has recommended privacy guidelines for the
nation's computer network.

At a hearing this week before the National Commission on
Library and Information Science, CPSR recommended a privacy
policy for the National Research and Education Network or
"NREN." Marc Rotenberg, Washington Director of CPSR, said
"We hope this proposal will get the ball rolling. The
failure to develop a good policy for the computer network
could be very costly in the long term."

The National Commission is currently reviewing comments
for a report to the Office of Science and Technology Policy
on the future of the NREN.

Mr. Rotenberg said there are several reasons that the
Commission should address the privacy issue. "First, the
move toward commercialization of the network is certain to
exacerbate privacy concerns. Second, current law does not do
a very good job of protecting computer messages. Third,
technology won't solve all the problems."

The CPSR principles are (1) protect confidentiality, (2)
identify privacy implications in new services, (3) limit
collection of personal data, (4) restrict transfer of
personal information,(5) do not charge for routine privacy
protection, (6) incorporate technical safeguards, (7) develop
appropriate security policies, and (8) create an enforcement

Professor David Flaherty, an expert in telecommunications
privacy law, said "The CPSR principles fit squarely in the
middle of similar efforts in other countries to promote
network services. This looks like a good approach."

Evan Hendricks, the chair of the United States Privacy
Council and editor of Privacy Times, said that the United
States is "behind the curve" on privacy and needs to catch up
with other countries who are already developing privacy
guidelines. "The Europeans are racing forward, and we've
been left with dust on our face."

The CPSR privacy guidelines are similar to a set of
principles developed almost 20 years ago called The Code of
Fair Information practices. The Code was developed by a
government task force that included policy makers, privacy
experts, and computer scientists. The Code later became the
basis of the United States Privacy Act.

Dr. Ronni Rosenberg, who has studied the role of computer
scientists in public policy, said that "Computer
professionals have an important role to play in privacy
policy. The CPSR privacy guidelines are another example of
how scientists can contribute to public policy."

CPSR is a membership organization of over 2500 professionals in
the technology field. For more information about the Privacy Policies
and how to join CPSR, contact CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto CA 94302.
415/322-3778 (tel) and 415/322-3798 (fax) or email at


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