Obama Administration To Appoint ‘Privacy Czar’

The Obama administration will create a new position-a sort of “privacy czar”-to oversee an increasingly vigilant approach to online privacy, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plans will be outlined in a report to be issued by the Commerce Department in the coming weeks.

The report doesn’t suggest specific new laws-but it does suggest that industry self-regulation by online advertisers isn’t enough. To put the report’s recommendations into effect, the White House has set up a task force led by the general counsel of the Commerce Department, Cameron Kerry, who is also the brother of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Assistant Secretary of the Commerce Department Lawrence Strickling said at a privacy conference last month that the report is the beginning of a “dialogue” that will ultimately produce a final position for the Obama administration on privacy issues. While Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have expressed general support for privacy, they are unlikely to support expanding the regulatory purview of the agencies most likely to be in charge of enforcing new privacy rules, such as the Federal Trade Commission.

The news follows a report that the Federal Communications Commission is continuing to investigate a privacy breach by Google’s Street View cars. The company’s cars collected personal information that was transmitted over public WiFi networks; Google (NSDQ: GOOG) issued a public apology for the mistake in May. It also follows the suggestion that another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, is considering regulations that would offer internet users a “do not track” option similar to a “do not call” option.