[ISN] Sun on Privacy: 'Get Over It'

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sun Jan 31 1999 - 03:25:59 PST

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    Sun on Privacy: 'Get Over It'
    by Polly Sprenger 
    12:00 p.m.  26.Jan.99.PST
    The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer
    privacy issues are a "red herring."
    "You have zero privacy anyway," Scott McNealy told a group of reporters
    and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company's new Jini
    "Get over it." 
    McNealy's comments came only hours after competitor Intel (INTC) reversed
    course under pressure and disabled identification features in its
    forthcoming Pentium III chip. 
    Jodie Bernstein, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the
    Federal Trade Commission, said that McNealy's remarks were out of line. 
    "Millions of American consumers tell us that privacy is a grave concern to
    them when they are thinking about shopping online," Bernstein said. 
    Sun Microsystems is a member of the Online Privacy Alliance, an industry
    coalition that seeks to head off government regulation of online consumer
    privacy in favor of an industry self-regulation approach. 
    "It is a conundrum, because I know that [Sun is] a member of the Online
    Privacy Alliance, and they have spoken positively about responding to
    consumer needs," Bernstein said. "This sounds very different than what we
    have generally been hearing from members of the alliance." 
    Privacy watchdogs echoed Bernstein's remarks. 
    "I'm astonished by Scott's remarks," said Jason Catlett, CEO of
    Junkbusters, a company that makes privacy software. "I wonder if he heard
    what Intel decided yesterday? Intel obviously decided that privacy is such
    a hot spot that they changed plans they've had for months in a matter of
    Catlett said the comments are even more surprising in light of the fact
    that the undersecretary of commerce is currently in Europe to demonstrate
    to foreign governments that American companies are committed to security
    and privacy. 
    "David Aaron is in Europe now saying the United States has adequate
    privacy protection the same day the chief executive of one of the leading
    computer companies stands up and says 'you have no privacy,'" Catlett
    "It's tantamount to a declaration of war." 
    McNealy made the remarks in response to a question about what privacy
    safeguards Sun (SUNW) would be considering for Jini. The technology is
    designed to allow various consumer devices to communicate and share
    processing resources with one another. 
    "I think Scott's comments were completely irresponsible and that Sun and
    Intel and many of these leaders are creating public policy every time they
    make a product decision," said Lori Fena, chairman of the board of the
    Electronic Frontier Foundation. 
    For consumers, McNealy's comments raised questions about Sun's commitment
    to privacy. 
    "One might hope that industry leaders such as McNealy would propose
    solutions to enhance citizen privacy rather than just telling them to 'get
    over it,'" said Linda Walsh, a consumer concerned about electronic
    "He may have no privacy because of his status as CEO. He shouldn't assume
    his reality is everyone else's," Walsh said. 
    In December, a New Hampshire consultant alleged that Sun violated its
    online privacy agreement and redistributed his personal information
    against his wishes. 
    Sun representatives could not be reached for comment. 
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