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Magaziner Addresses New Media Association

Future government regulation of the Internet could hinge on just how successful the industry regulates itself in dealing with online privacy in coming months, said presidential advisor Ira Magaziner.

Magaziner spoke Wednesday at a New York City forum sponsored by the New York New Media Association. Other speakers were author Esther Dyson and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig.

Overall, the government's role should be to encourage private industry to act, Magaziner said, reiterating a theme he developed as point person in the formulation of the Framework for Global Electronic Commerce. The framework, introduced by President Clinton last July, rejected new Internet taxes, supported encryption with key recovery, and backed ratification of treaties approved by the World Intellectual Property Organization intended to ensure copyright protection on the Internet.

Magaziner said the Federal Trade Commission's recent call for legislation to protect consumer privacy online was consistent with the Clinton administration's hands-off policies because the FTC backed a bill that would simply establish its authority to issue enforceable guidelines for protecting children's personal information. The FTC's report, based on a review of 1,400 sites in March, showed 89 percent of children's sites surveyed collected personal details from youngsters.

There is still time for industry self-regulation on privacy issues to take hold, Magaziner said.

At the panel discussion, the speakers discussed whether self-regulation is working in the Internet industry and whether market-based forces outside the government can solve the problems facing the Net such as copyright issues, privacy, and domain name management.

Lessig said that in creating the architecture of cyberspace, "we are creating the most significant jurisdiction since the Louisiana Purchase."