Washington, D.C., March 1, 2001 – In testimony presented today to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior analyst Solveig Singleton explained that the history of privacy law in the U.S. shows that broad privacy laws are a radical and extreme departure from the tradition of freedom of information. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
While the Constitution rightly protects the privacy of citizens against invasive government agencies, applying the same standards to private enterprises would undermine the basis of a free economy.
“The Fourth Amendment should not be the basis for asserting privacy rights against journalists or businesses, for there is no ‘state action’ and the private sector enjoys constitutional rights of free speech,” said Singleton.
The hearing, sponsored by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, was held to investigate consumer privacy in the commercial world. Despite concern over some of the advanced technologies businesses use to track and store information about customers, those technologies yield substantial consumer advantages. “We still see anxiety about today’s electronic databases and learning tolls – although these are a natural and beneficial evolution away from reliance on gossip, guesses, and hearsay about people preferences,” said Singleton.
CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, director of media relations, at email@example.com or 202-331-1010, ext. 266.