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[FYI] U.S. Confused About Privacy


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U.S. Confused About Privacy  

by Manny Frishberg  

5:00 p.m. Apr. 28, 2000 PDT  

SEATTLE -- Differing attitudes and laws covering privacy rights and 
free speech are generating conflicting rules for governing the 
Internet in the United States and Europe, making it difficult to come 
up with a set of global standards to govern the new medium, said a 
professor addressing a conference on the issue here.  

U.S. law places an almost unassailable right to free speech at the 
core of its constitution, but has only vague protections for privacy 
rights, said Shalini Venturelli, a professor of International 
Communications at American University. European constitutions, on the 
other hand, have strong guarantees of privacy, but give governments 
considerably more latitude in controlling content, she said.  

As a result, Venturelli said, European governments already have found 
35 reasons and means for restricting the content allowed on Internet 
websites. So the U.S. position on Net privacy protections, which 
Europeans frequently view as entirely too weak, is not going to be 
easily accepted by a few diplomats or trade negotiators in a forum 
like the World Trade Organization.  


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