Study Seen as Stalling Privacy Laws

WASHINGTON (05/20/2000) - A plan in the House of Representatives to create a congressional commission to study privacy is seen by its opponents - including the Clinton administration - as a way to put the brakes on any privacy-related legislation.

Congress is considering legislation by Representatives. Asa Hutchinson (Republican-Arkansas) and Jim Moran (Democrat-Virginia) to create a 17-member group that would get $2.5 million and 18 months to take a comprehensive look at privacy issues. The bill is called the Privacy Commission Act.

But John Spotila, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, testifying last week before a House subcommittee, said the commission is being supported by those who "would prefer to have Congress study this issue rather than take action."

"The commission might be a reason for people not to take action on financial privacy legislation, which we think is clearly needed," Spotila told the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Horn (Republican-California) said the commission might be useful in bringing consensus.

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