MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; boundary="----=_NextPart_01C612A6.CD0BEDE0" This document is a Single File Web Page, also known as a Web Archive file. If you are seeing this message, your browser or editor doesn't support Web Archive files. Please download a browser that supports Web Archive, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.CD0BEDE0 Content-Location: file:///C:/EB83A2B3/bw_grassroots_revolt_against_information_age_intruders.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" A Grass-Roots Revolt Against Information-Age Intruders - Business We= ek

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_31/c3844076_mz013.htm

 

 

 

3D"Business

AUGUST 4, 2003

WASHINGTON OUTLOOK


A Grass-Roots Revolt Against Information-Age Intruders


Even the politically conscious crew in the West Wing had no idea how= raw a nerve they would touch when President Bush on June 28 announced the creat= ion of a Do Not Call Registry to protect Americans from unwanted telemarketing.= In the first three weeks after the Federal Trade Commission opened the no-call list on July 1, more than 27 million Americans signed up. It's just the lat= est sign of a growing grassroots backlash against intrusive information purveyo= rs of the New Economy. And politicians across the ideological spectrum are jum= ping on the bandwagon of technopopulism.

They cast themselves as the defenders of ordinary voters who want to rein in spammers jamming e-mail systems, telemarketers interrupting ever-vanishing family time, and credit companies trading in consumer financial data. "Americans have accepted technology as a piece of their everyday lives, but they're still fighting it," explains Representative Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), co-sponsor of one of the rapidly proliferating anti-spam bills on Capitol Hill.

The movement to block Information Age aggravations is creating strange bedfellows. Conservatives, traditionally focused on Big Government intrusio= ns on individual privacy, are considering joining liberals in the fight against corporate nosiness. "There's so much information available to so many people that you have to rethink how to build the walls," says David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Buoyed by the popularity of the Do Not Call Registry, a broad Left-Right coalition -- uniting the Consumers Union with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce = -- wants an anti-spam bill next. The legislation faces hurdles in the House, w= here members are squabbling over whether to give consumers the right to sue spammers. But public outcry is pressuring lawmakers to reach a deal this ye= ar. While liberals are out to protect consumers from shady operators and commercialization run amok, corporate interests want to ensure the survival= of the emerging Internet marketplace. "Spam is making consumers less like= ly to purchase online," says Joe Rubin, executive director for technology= and e-commerce at the Chamber of Commerce.

A Senate bill by conservative Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and liberal Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to combat bulk unsolicited e-mail is moving quickly. It would requ= ire e-mail marketers to give consumers the ability to opt out of receiving such messages and impose penalties of up to $3 million on offenders. Because of rising public anger at out-of-control spammers, support for the bill "= has achieved critical mass," Burns says.

But concerns about privacy extend beyond the e-mail inbox. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) is preparing a new push for tighter curbs on financial institutions' ability to share customer data with affiliates or outside companies. And a key House panel on July 16 adopted a proposal pushed by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow to combat identity theft, including free annual credit reports for consumers. The proposal is coupled with a measure sought by banking interests: permanent renewal of provisions that bar states from imposing tougher credit-reporting restrictions than the feds.

Just as Teddy Roosevelt wrestled to protect workers and smaller competitors from corporate oligarchs of the Industrial Age, today's technopopulists are trying to write new rules for the Information Age. Progress may be slow= and obstacles large, but their momentum appears unstoppable.

By Catherine Yang, = with Lorraine Woellert and Amy = Borrus


Cop= yright 2000-2003, by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.
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