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Source: GovInfo Security

Posted on December 28, 2010

"Literally, in my entire time working in the privacy field, I've never seen such profound and aggressive activity by the government in the privacy space," privacy expert Thomas Oscherwitz says.

Two US federal agencies - the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce - have instituted initiatives in the past few weeks aimed at safeguarding personal information online.

Nearly daily revelations of breaches that expose personal identifiable information such as US Social Security numbers coupled with events such as last month's WikiLeaks unauthorized release of sensitive government documents have created a nexus of privacy rights and IT security in which the government seeks new ways to protect individuals conducting their personal and business affairs online.

"We will not share information if they don't have confidence that their information will be protected from a confidential perspective but also from a security perspective," says Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer and vice president of governmental affairs at ID Analytics, a provider of identity risk management services.

"There's been a firestorm of activity in this area in the last year," Oscherwitz says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "Literally, in my entire time working in the privacy field, I've never seen such profound and aggressive activity by the government in the privacy space."

Oscherwitz should know, having spent that past dozen years in Washington dealing with privacy and identity management issues, including 5 years as counsel on the Senate Judiciary Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Subcommittee. He recently served on a presidential task force on identity management and chairs the identity management committee at TechAmerica, an IT industry and lobbying group.

"There really is an acceleration of activity going on in terms of commercialization in our commercial, personal lives," he says. "In social networking, there's incredible amount of information; there's more activity in terms of online participation. What's clear is that if this Internet economy is going to work, we're going to have to get two things right. One is security, and the other is privacy." Otherwise, Oscherwitz says, our economy is at risk.

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