February 9, 2006

The Great Debate: National Privacy Legislation

Explore the Pros and Cons of National Privacy Legislation at the IAPP National Summit 2006, March 8-10, in Washington, D.C.

Register for the Summit by Feb. 10 to Receive the Early-Bird Rate

YORK, Maine — February 9, 2006 — The IAPP today announced the addition of a new panel to debate the concept of federal privacy legislation — a provocative topic that has caught the attention of industry and consumer groups.
The debate will follow the keynote address from Microsoft's Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 9, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"A comprehensive approach to privacy that applies across the country would give all consumers strong privacy and security protection, and would set clear standards for businesses that will allow commerce to flourish," Smith said. "As such, Microsoft believes broad federal legislation that preempts the hundreds of state regulations needs to be developed to address this issue."

Not everyone agrees.  Howard Beales, of George Washington University, was a senior member of the FTC during the tenure of Chairman Tim Muris.  During that time, the FTC took a "harm"-based approach to privacy — requesting legislation and focusing enforcement on those areas where consumer harm actually occurred.

"At the very least, the enormous efforts to implement a broad new privacy law would distract both businesses and enforcement agencies from the pressing task of protecting sensitive information from thieves," Beales said. "That is where the focus should remain. Moreover, some legislative proposals threaten to compromise important fraud-fighting tools that are crucial in the fight against identity theft."
Panel Moderator Christine A. Varney, a partner at Hogan & Hartson and a former FTC commissioner, said she plans to pose this question to the panelists: "Is this an idea whose time has finally come — is this dog ready to hunt?"
Varney noted that the debate over whether national privacy legislation is needed in the U.S. has been raised and mulled several times over the years, dating back to 1995.
The IAPP National Summit 2006 will draw privacy professionals from around the U.S., Canada and other countries to attend the largest and most anticipated privacy conference. Topics that will be covered in-depth include ID theft and the U.S. and global legislative response, generational privacy and outsourcing, among others.

Smith is one of five keynote speakers. He will be joined by FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour; Jonathan Zittrain, Co-Founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School; Dr. David J. Brailer, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who heads President Bush's efforts to deploy widespread health-information technology within the next 10 years; Christophe Pallez, Secretaire general de la CNIL, France, who has served as head of the French data protection authority since September 2005.  

What:     IAPP National Summit 2006
When:    March 8-10, 2006
Where:  Omni Shoreham Hotel
              2500 Calvert St., NW
              Washington, D.C.  20008
Media wishing to cover the Summit should send a request to:

For more information or to register for the Summit, visit