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Witness List Released for Online-Privacy Hearing

The Senate Commerce Committee unveiled the witnesses for Wednesday's hearing on online privacy, and they include Robert Dykes, chairman of NebuAd, the company that saw its online-ad deal with cable operator Charter Communications tabled after complaints from several key members of Congress.

In addition to Dykes, the witnesses will be Lydia Barnes, director of the Consumer Protection Bureau at the Federal Trade Commission (who gets the first of two panels all to herself); Mike Hintze of Microsoft; Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology; Jane Horvath of Google; Clyde Wane Crews Jr. of the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and Chris Kelly from Facebook.

The committee is considering whether or not the FTC or Federal Communications Commission needs to adopt new protections against violations of privacy online.

"There is concern," the committee said in releasing the witness list, "that tracking individuals’ Internet activity and gathering information from online users violates their expectations of privacy. Individuals often are unaware what information is being collected about them, how it is being used and to whom it is disseminated."

The online-advertising issue has been heating up in Washington, D.C., driven by concerns about Internet-service providers’ access to data and the merging of search and advertising functions. Recently, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, said the ad partnership of Google and Yahoo would get a thorough going-over by his committee.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.