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Bush Administration to Call for Privacy Czar

The Bush administration is expected to recommend the appointment of a federal "privacy czar" as part of its forthcoming National Strategy for Securing Cyberspace (NSSC), according to an eWeek report.

The NSSC is part and parcel of the Homeland Security bill Congress is scheduled to begin debating this week, and is expected to come under fire for proposals that largely expand the government's electronic surveillance capabilities, including the establishment of a centralized facility that would collect and examine data traffic for security threats.

The decision to promote the creation of a federal chief privacy officer is intended to help deflect some of that criticism, according to eWeek. The privacy czar, who would be assigned to the proposed Department of Homeland Security, would be charged with vetting all government data gathering and security initiatives for potential privacy issues. The czar would oversee a privacy advocate posted to each federal agency. Those advocates, in turn, would be responsible for an annual review of each agency's compliance.

The draft plan calls for the advocates and privacy czar to collaborate with a national advisory group to "ensure broad input into, and consideration of, privacy issues in implementing the national strategy to achieve solutions that protect privacy while enhancing network and host security."

At the same time, the plan also calls on the government to find ways to get members of the private sector to beef up their privacy protections without resorting to legislation.