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FTC sensitive to data access

The Federal Trade Commission will launch a study and hold hearings on "look-up services" that give away sensitive identification information.

The Federal Trade Commission said today it will launch a study and hold hearings on "look-up services" which contain what consumers may consider sensitive identifying information.

The study responds to concerns raised by the public and members of Congress about databases that are used to locate individuals or develop background information. That may include Social Security numbers, current and prior addresses, and dates of birth.

Last year, for example, legislators called for regulation in reaction to a controversy over the Lexis-Nexis's P-Track service, which releases some private information over the Internet to its subscribers.

And CNET reported more recently that the social security numbers of billionaires such as Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner are readily accessible on the Net through documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The commission will hold a four-day public workshop on consumer privacy issues between June 10 and June 13 in Washington. It will review the industry's response to another workshop on the issue last year as well as a report: "Consumer Privacy on the Global Information Infrastructure."

The workshop will form the basis of a report to Congress.