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ALEC Weighs In On Federal Online Privacy Debate

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, April 6 2012

The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council urged the Commerce Department this week to stick to a market-oriented approach to privacy regulation as the administration corrals the private sector to adopt best practices in data collection and tracking of consumers online.

Predictably, the group urges the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is part of the Department of Commerce, to let the private sector to lead, and for the NTIA not to "micromanage" the process.

The letter was co-authored by Rep. Blair Thoreson, from North Dakota, ALEC's public sector chairman for its communications and technology task force, and Bartlett Cleland, policy counsel for the conservatively-oriented Institute for Policy Innovation, and ALEC's private sector chairman.

It was one of more than 80 letters submitted to the NTIA as it embarks on a process to get the private sector to implement the administration's principles in the White House' "Privacy Blueprint."

ALEC has come under fire for the past year over its advocacy for state laws that would require identification such as drivers' licenses in order to vote, a pet conservative cause. More recently, it's also come under fire for advocating for the controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, which many are saying is what enabled George Zimmerman to claim self-defense in shooting the unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin late this February and get away with it without being arrested and subjected to an examination of the facts in a court of law.

ALEC has been criticized for the behind-the-scenes influence it has exerted on state legislatures around the country. The Sunlight Foundation found in a recent analysis that up to 15 states have similar laws on the books to Florida's.