In a letter to the National Telecommunications &
Information Administration, a dozen activist groups have called for better
remote participation in the July 12 stakeholder meeting
on the Administration's privacy Bill of Rights.
NTIA, which is hosting the talks, has agreed to have staffer
act as proxies for those not able to attend in person to relay questions and
comments, and the meeting is being webcast -- but the groups, which include the
ACLU, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumers Union, say that is inadequate.
"For the multistakeholder process to be credible, civil
society must be able to participate in the meetings to the fullest extent
possible, and that means two-way, contemporaneous communication," they
wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by B&C/Multichannel News.
They were reiterating their baseline suggestions for the
meeting, which were issued April 2.
The groups want:
"An audio bridge with an operator to queue comments and
questions via a toll-free conference line. To balance remote and in-person
participation, the NTIA could alternate between taking questions and comments
from people on the phone and in the room.
"An Internet Relay Chat (IRC) that people could use to
make comments, which could be viewed online and projected in the meeting
Saying they were speaking for "civil society," the
groups said that without those interactive connections, the meeting will deny
them a "real" voice.
The meeting is the first of several meetings expected to
last through the fall.
The White House has charged NTIA, its chief telecom policy
advisor, with getting stakeholders together on a voluntary privacy bill of
rights enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission. The White House is also
looking to get legislative muscle behind the bill of rights, but in the
meantime is pushing industry players to commit voluntarily. Violators of that
commitment could then be the target of FTC action under its charter to go after
"false and deceptive" claims.