Technology, Gov Leaders to Debate E-Gov Privacy

WASHINGTON (06/05/2000) - State and local government and technology leaders will debate electronic government privacy issues, such as public key infrastructure security, digital signatures, and policy statements, in a new e-Government Web Privacy Coalition.

The coalition, formed by NIC Technologies, a leading e-government company, will be composed of ten state and local government professionals and five private sector workers.

"The coalition needs to look at how to protect citizens and businesses from having data in an insecure environment," said Rich Phillips, NIC's director of corporate communications. Phillips said that by protecting the public's information, their confidence will grow, and "e-government can move forward."

The coalition has two goals:

* Identify and publish preferred practices to promote privacy standards, confidentiality, and the preservation of public trust.

* Create an independent organization to develop and oversee a voluntary certification program for government World Wide Web portals and e-government applications. The organization would award a privacy seal to government sites that meet the minimum standards.

Although the coalition is being formed by a private-sector company and will have five private-sector members, Phillips said NIC believes that "government should be the policy maker." By having two-thirds of the coalition public sector representatives, he said the coalition would meet this goal. The private sector's role is important as well, he said, because they must follow the established standards.

The coalition will first meet on July 12, and will issue an initial report within 30 days, Phillips said. The private-sector members will include representatives from Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Corp., Digital Signature Trust Co., and Oracle Corp.

Public-sector members have not been named yet because many need approval from government boards. Phillips said that about 95 percent of public-sector personnel have been contacted about the coalition, and many expressed interest.

They will be announced by the end of the month.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation, a think tank that studies state e-government efforts, will serve as an advisor to the coalition.

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