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Sun Exec's Comments on Privacy, or lack thereof

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Thu, 28 Jan 1999 09:41:12 -0500
From:          cassidy sehgal-kolbet <>
Subject:       Sun Exec's Comments on Privacy, or lack thereof

WIRED News, January 26, 1999

Sun on Privacy: 'Get Over It'

by Polly Sprenger

The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that
consumer privacy issues are a "red herring."

"You have zero privacy anyway," Scott McNealy told a group of
reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his
company's new Jini technology.

"Get over it."

McNealy's comments came only hours after competitor Intel (INTC)
reversed course under pressure and disabled identification features in
its forthcoming Pentium III chip.

Jodie Bernstein, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the
Federal Trade Commission, said that McNealy's remarks were out of

"Millions of American consumers tell us that privacy is a grave
concern to them when they are thinking about shopping online,"
Bernstein said.

Sun Microsystems is a member of the Online Privacy Alliance, an
industry coalition that seeks to head off government regulation of
online consumer privacy in favor of an industry self-regulation

"It is a conundrum, because I know that [Sun is] a member of the
Online Privacy Alliance, and they have spoken positively about
responding to consumer needs," Bernstein said. "This sounds very
different than what we have generally been hearing from members of the

Privacy watchdogs echoed Bernstein's remarks.

"I'm astonished by Scott's remarks," said Jason Catlett, CEO of
Junkbusters, a company that makes privacy software. "I wonder if he
heard what Intel decided yesterday? Intel obviously decided that
privacy is such a hot spot that they changed plans they've had for
months in a matter of hours."

Catlett said the comments are even more surprising in light of the
fact that the undersecretary of commerce is currently in Europe to
demonstrate to foreign governments that American companies are
committed to security and privacy.

"David Aaron is in Europe now saying the United States has adequate
privacy protection the same day the chief executive of one of the
leading computer companies stands up and says 'you have no privacy,'"
Catlett said.

"It's tantamount to a declaration of war."

McNealy made the remarks in response to a question about what privacy
safeguards Sun (SUNW) would be considering for Jini. The technology is
designed to allow various consumer devices to communicate and share
processing resources with one another.

"I think Scott's comments were completely irresponsible and that Sun
and Intel and many of these leaders are creating public policy every
time they make a product decision," said Lori Fena, chairman of the
board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

For consumers, McNealy's comments raised questions about Sun's
commitment to privacy.

"One might hope that industry leaders such as McNealy would propose
solutions to enhance citizen privacy rather than just telling them to
'get over it,'" said Linda Walsh, a consumer concerned about
electronic privacy.

"He may have no privacy because of his status as CEO. He shouldn't
assume his reality is everyone else's," Walsh said.

In December, a New Hampshire consultant alleged that Sun violated its
online privacy agreement and redistributed his personal information
against his wishes.

Sun representatives could not be reached for comment.

Copyright (c) 1994-99 Wired Digital Inc.

Related Wired Links:

Sun Unleashes Jini, 25.Jan.99

Intel on Privacy: 'Whoops!', 25.Jan.99

Background: The Year in Privacy, 22.Dec.98

'Sun Violated My Privacy', 18.Dec.98

Your Data as Online Commodity, 2.Jun.98