Watchdog Planned for Online Privacy

The Obama Administration is preparing a stepped-up approach to policing Internet privacy that calls for new laws and the creation of a new position to oversee the effort, according to people familiar with the situation.

The strategy is expected to be unveiled in a report being issued by the U.S. Commerce Department in coming weeks, these people said. The report isn’t yet final and could change, these people said.

In a related move, the White House has created a special task force that is expected to help transform the Commerce Department recommendations into policy, these people said. The White House task force, set up three weeks ago, is led by Cameron Kerry, the brother of Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Commerce Department general counsel, and Christopher Schroeder, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice.

The initiatives would mark a turning point in Internet policy. Recent administrations typically steered away from Internet regulations out of concern for stifling innovation. But the increasingly central role of personal information in the Internet economy helped spark government action, according to people familiar with the situation.

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