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(July 11, 2001) -- The new chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said today he would make online privacy legislation a major part of his committee's work.

Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., wants legislation that would have consumers "opt-in" before companies can distribute their personal information to marketers. His stance is a departure from his predecessor's, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who backs requiring companies to notify consumers that they could chose to have their data kept private.

Holding his first hearing on privacy, Sen. Hollings said industry requests to meet privacy needs through self-regulation went "nowhere" and now is the time to act.

"As for industry claims that opt-in kills the Internet, they are just whistling Dixie," he said.

Also at the hearing Sen. John Edward, D-N.C., announced he was introducing separate legislation that would bar wireless companies from selling or disclosing information on a consumer's physical location without permission. If enacted the legislation could affect attempts to use cell phones or car directional services for advertising. -- Ira Teinowitz

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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