FTC DELAYS SEEKING ADULT WEB SITE CURBS

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Congress and federal regulators appear to be leaning toward giving Internet marketers an additional six months to come up with effective self-regulation of privacy issues before resorting to new laws.

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Robert Pitofsky last week said progress of the Online Privacy Alliance in drawing an industry plan, together with the likelihood Congress would be unable to act quickly, convinced him to back away from his threat to seek legislation to regulate adult Web sites.

The FTC still seeks restrictions this year on children's Web sites.

The Online Privacy Alliance, which includes major Internet marketers, computer companies and online associations, last week released its plan for self-regulation, and its choice was to call on members to join "industry seal" groups.

Christine Varney, the former FTC commissioner who heads the alliance, said the two groups offering seals, Trust-e and Better Business Bureau-Online, would be better equipped to handle complaints.

`LET THE MARKETPLACE WORK'

"If in three, four or five months it isn't moving, we need to reconsider," she said. "But for the moment, we will let the marketplace work."

Mr. Pitofsky and Ms. Varney last week testified at a hearing of a House telecommunications panel looking at the issue. The Clinton administration will soon issue more privacy recommendations, one from the Commerce Department and one from Ira Magaziner, a special adviser to the president.

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