"Internet privacy issues encompass concerns about the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) from visitors to Web sites, as well as debate over law enforcement or employer monitoring of electronic mail and Web usage. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, debate over the issue of law enforcement monitoring has intensified, with some advocating increased tools for law enforcement to track down terrorists, and others cautioning that fundamental tenets of democracy, such as privacy, not be endangered in that pursuit. The Department of Justice authorization bill (H.R. 2215) requires the Justice Department to report to Congress on its use of Internet monitoring software such as Carnivore/DCS 1000, but Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107- 56) that, 'inter alia', makes it easier for law enforcement to monitor Internet activities. The parallel debate over Web site information policies concerns whether industry self regulation or legislation is the best approach to protecting consumer privacy. This report provides a brief overview of Internet privacy issues and tracks pending legislation."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31408
United States. Dept. of State. Bureau of Public Affairs. Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/