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Government Surveillance

The President Revives an Old Debate About Privacy

Few expect Internet privacy legislation in Congress this year. But many were heartened that the “p” word came up at all in the State of Union address Tuesday night.

The Obama administration’s latest salvo resurrects a difficult, urgent debate over keeping Americans safe online and respecting their privacy.

His executive order on cybersecurity, issued Tuesday, sought to strike a balance. It asked government agencies to share with private companies what intelligence they have about computer security threats; but it did not ask the private sector to share its own information with the government. The president, in his State of the Union address, explicitly cited the need to protect both “national security” and “privacy.”