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Home > Coverage > White House Chief of Staff Podesta Responds to USA Today Editorial


White House Chief of Staff Podesta Responds to USA Today Editorial

Below is the text of White House Chief of Staff John Podesta's Op-Ed responding to USA Today's October 25, 2000 editorial "Privacy Promises Crumble":

USA Today

November 1, 2000

Page 29A

White House supports Net privacy

USA TODAY's editorial on privacy issues presents a misleading view of the Clinton administration's efforts to protect privacy in the new Internet age. It distorts our record on protecting information provided by citizens to the government, and it ignores our efforts to better safeguard medical, financial and other sensitive information throughout the private sector ("Privacy promises crumble," Oct. 25). Here are the facts:

  • Federal agencies maintain more than 27 million Web pages. A recent General Accounting Office report found that of 2,700 major sites reviewed, only nine failed to post a privacy policy. The report cited "considerable progress" in the government's upgrading of Internet privacy practices.
  • Contrary to the claims of a private group cited in the editorial, the White House Web site does not violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Children provide addresses only if they want to receive something in the mail-such as photos of the president or his pets, Socks and Buddy.
  • Any information provided to the Internal Revenue Service by a taxpayer seeking tax advice is destroyed once the agency responds to the request.
Across the board, we have moved quickly and effectively to ensure that citizens looking to the government for information or assistance are fully protected. We also have worked to strengthen privacy protections throughout the private sector, from stricter rules to keep banks from releasing customers' financial data to the first nationwide protections for sensitive medical records. What's more, Clinton continues to fight efforts in Congress to gut the privacy protections of the Census Act and to allow businesses to gather and sell Social Security numbers.

A fuller description of our efforts to protect the privacy of all Americans can be found at the Web site address, www.cio.gov/docs/privacylist.htm.

John D. Podesta, chief of staff

The White House, Washington, D.C.


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