Nine months after announcing it would create a privacy advisory committee, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wednesday finally appointed 20 private sector members to the panel, including D. Reed Freeman, Jr., the chief privacy officer for adware firm Claria, which has come under fire over privacy issues online.
The Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee will advise the DHS on issues that affect the privacy of personally identifiable information of U.S. citizens and visitors in DHS programs.
Formerly known as Gator, Claria is one of the largest adware distributors and has been sued by companies such as The New York Times, Dow Jones and L.L. Bean for its questionable advertising and consumer privacy practices. Claria has also objected to its adware being characterized as spyware.
Recently, however, Claria has been attempting to reshape its image, repackaging itself as an "online behavioral marketing" firm and says it will only offer display ads on publisher sites.
"I applied, and was selected, to serve on the board in my own right and based on my privacy law experience not just at Claria, but throughout my career," Freeman said in an e-mail response to internetnews.com. "The company is committed to addressing some of the challenges it has faced, and we have made important strides in that evolution," said Freeman, who is also a registered lobbyist for Claria. In October 2004, Freeman told internetnews.com he would be focused on legislation that is working its way through Congress regarding anti-spyware legislation.
Freeman is a former staff attorney for the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and was in private practice when he joined Claria in May 2004. He has also served as adjunct professor of online advertising and privacy law at George Mason University School of Law since 2000, teaching a class in "Electronic Commerce: Regulation of Advertising."
In addition to Freeman, members appointed to inaugural terms include executives from Oracle, Intel, SAIC, IBM, Computer Associates and Cendant.
Think tanks and academics joining the committee include the Cato Institute, George Washington University and George Mason University.
Nuala O'Connor Kelly, the chief privacy officer at the DHS, will serve as the committee sponsor and Rebecca Richards, director of privacy compliance for the DHS Privacy Office, will serve as the executive director of the committee.
"The diversity of experience and perspectives represented by this committee will play an important role in advancing the national discourse on privacy and homeland security," Kelly said in a statement.
Privacy Advisory Committee meetings will be held on a quarterly basis and will rotate from Washington to forums in other parts of the United States. The first meeting will be held April 6 in Washington.
The notice to establish the committee and request for applicants was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2003. More than 129 applications were received. The Privacy Office reviewed the applications, and former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge accepted the recommendations of Kelly.