Clinton calls for privacy bill

Measure would curb domestic spying

June 18, 2006|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON -- Saying she's an "expert" on having her life fully exposed to public view, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called Friday for a "privacy bill of rights" to prevent identity theft and curb government snooping.

"Having lost so much of my own privacy in recent years, I have a deep appreciation of its value," she told the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a liberal group. "I am an expert in the perils of losing your privacy."

Clinton -- who's considering a presidential run -- has lived in a governor's mansion and the White House, and is now seeking re-election to the Senate.

She decided to give an "ironic" speech on privacy "since I seem to have so little of it in my own life."

As for government snooping, Clinton cited her 1970s stint as a House lawyer probing Watergate, where she said President Richard Nixon "created enemies' lists and manipulated IRS audits."

She said there should be a "privacy czar" within the White House to guard against recent problems such as the theft of personal data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

She also said consumers should know what information companies are keeping about them and how it is used, and called for a tiered system of penalties for companies that are careless with consumer data.

Clinton also took on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance inside the U.S., which she said, "deliberately chose to act outside of law."

"Their track record does not warrant our trust," she said.

GOP operatives said Clinton was ignoring invasions of privacy conducted during her husband's administration, which was investigated for ordering tax audits of its critics.

The Clinton White House also sifted through confidential FBI files on top Republicans.

"Just when you thought Hillary Clinton couldn't say anything more ridiculous, she outdoes herself," said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

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