Former Lockheed Exec to Helm U.S. Commerce

FRAMINGHAM (07/21/2000) - Data-privacy and electronic-commerce issues will likely top the priority list of newly named Commerce Secretary Norman Y.

Mineta.

Confirmed this morning by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate, Mineta, a former vice president of special business initiatives at Lockheed Martin Corp. will oversee a department of 40,000 people worldwide and a $5 billion budget. He succeeds William Daley, who resigned to take over Al Gore's presidential campaign.

He'll also lead the implementation of the much-debated safe harbor agreement that governs the exchange of data between European and U.S. companies. Approved by the European Union in mid-June but sent back to the negotiating table by the Europeans on a subsequent vote earlier this month, the proposed set of data-privacy rules have been in process for nearly two years. But now, they're ready for implementation, according to Washington sources.

"It's my understanding that despite the additional changes that the European Parliament wanted, the European Commission is going forward with the agreement as negotiated," said David Aaron, an attorney at the law firm Dorsey & Whitmey LLP, who helped negotiate the safe harbor deal while serving as undersecretary of commerce.

"We're at the stage now where we're looking at implementing the agreement," he added.

Aaron added that domestic data-privacy issues will also likely dominate Mineta's agenda.

"The previous secretary made the issue of domestic data privacy a high priority, and I think it will continue to be so," Aaron said. Noting the incoming secretary's previous work with Lockheed, much of it centered in Silicon Valley, Aaron added that "he's [Mineta] very much aware of the importance of data privacy and electronic-commerce issues on the whole."

In a statement released earlier today, Mineta pledged to make "mainstreaming the new economy and working toward digital inclusion for all Americans" among his key agenda items.

Throughout his career, the Commerce Department said, Mineta has had extensive experience in technology and trade issues, such as playing a key role in settling semiconductor disputes with Japan and in helping to secure research and development tax credits for businesses.

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