Sen. Franken To Chair New Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law

by jeeg 25. February 2011 19:27

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Monday the creation of a new subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, to be chaired by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.

"The explosion of new technologies and activities online, including social media, has unleashed new questions about how to protect Americans' privacy in the digital age," said Leahy. "As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have made privacy a top priority, and that will continue in the 112th Congress. The important work of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will complement the work that the full Committee will continue this year. I welcome Senator Franken as the chair of this subcommittee, and look forward to continued progress in protecting Americans' personal privacy."

"The boom of new technologies over the last several years has made it easier to keep in touch with family, organize a community and start a business," said Sen. Franken. "It has also put an unprecedented amount of personal information into the hands of large companies that are unknown and unaccountable to the American public. As chairman of this new subcommittee, I will try to make sure that we can reap the rewards of new technology while also protecting Americans' right to privacy."

The jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will include: oversight of laws and policies governing the collection, protection, use, and dissemination of commercial information by the private sector, including online behavioral advertising; privacy within social networking websites and other online privacy issues; enforcement and implementation of commercial information privacy laws and policies; use of technology by the private sector to protect privacy, enhance transparency and encourage innovation; privacy standards for the collection, retention, use and dissemination of personally identifiable commercial information; and privacy implications of new or emerging technologies.

Protecting Minnesotans' consumer rights and privacy has been a priority for Sen. Franken since he came to the Senate. Last year, he pressed Attorney General Holder to incorporate an analysis of geotags-information about a person's location that is embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones- into an updated stalking victimization study connected to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Sen. Franken also joined with several of his Senate colleagues in urging Facebook to fix its privacy policy to block users' personal information from being accessed by third parties without the users' consent.

Sen. Franken will chair the subcommittee, and Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn will serve as the panel's ranking member. Other Democratic Senators on the subcommittee will include Chuck Schumer of New York, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Republican Senators on the subcommittee will include Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold an executive business meeting on Thursday, Feb. 17, when it is expected to approve subcommittees and rosters for the 112th Congress.


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