Obama Gets Failing Grades From Privacy Advocates

11/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President Obama earns poor to failing grades from privacy advocates who claim that his administration is neglecting privacy and civil-liberties issues as it focuses on the economy and health care.

The Privacy Coalition released a dismal report card Wednesday on the government's handling of such issues as online marketing, medical-record confidentiality, terrorist no-fly lists and airport security.

A consistent complaint is that the Obama White House hasn't delivered enough change from the previous administration. For instance, Obama's failure to disavow Bush-era electronic surveillance policies earned the administration a D overall from the coalition. "Privacy is a human rights issue. These rights aren't just abstract ideals in the sky," said Chip Pitts, president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. "For a former constitutional law lecturer, it's inexcusable."

Michael D. Ostrolenk, founder of the Medical Privacy Coalition, gave the president a D+ for his handling of medical record security, a grade worse than the group gave either presidents Bush or Clinton.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center conducted an online poll of visitors to its website which garnered the president straight F's on consumer privacy, medical privacy, civil liberties and cyber security.

"We gave the Obama administration an incomplete score (for consumer privacy) because they haven't really responded," said Susan Grant, the Consumer Federation of America's director of consumer protection. "Perhaps that's why many people who took the poll gave them a failing grade."

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