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Privacy Government Your Rights Online

Obama Calls For New Privacy Bill of Rights 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the l33t-amendment dept.
CWmike writes "The Obama Administration is backing a new data privacy bill of rights aimed at protecting consumers against indiscriminate online tracking and data collection by advertisers. In recent times, high-profile examples of a need for improving privacy laws include Facebook's personal data collection practices and Google's problems over its Street View Wi-Fi snooping issue. In testimony prepared for the Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation, the Commerce Department's assistant secretary, Lawrence Strickling, said that the White House wants Congress to enact legislation offering 'baseline consumer data privacy protections.' Strickling said the administration's call for new online privacy protections stems from recommendations made by the Commerce Department in a paper released in December. The administration's support for privacy protections is very significant, said Joel Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham Law School who specializes in privacy issues. 'This is the first time since 1974 that the U.S. government has supported mandatory general privacy rules,' Reidenberg said."
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Obama Calls For New Privacy Bill of Rights

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  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:35PM (#35508964)

    This or White House Wants New Copyright Law Crackdown?

    • by Byzantine (85549)

      I'm pretty sure it's both. Are you seriously expecting consistency from an elected official at the head of a vast bureaucracy?

      • OMG! It's like these people in government are human beings with nuanced opinions and conflicting constituencies!

        • by causality (777677) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:46PM (#35509098)

          OMG! It's like these people in government are human beings with nuanced opinions and conflicting constituencies!

          ... and no principles that consistently direct their decision-making since that would require a spine and would likely interfere with retaining power.

          You really want to make excuses for that?

          • by Reason58 (775044)

            ... and no principles that consistently direct their decision-making since that would require a spine and would likely interfere with retaining power.

            You really want to make excuses for that?

            You said it yourself; politicians in the upper levels of government must set aside principles to stay in office. If you want to blame someone, blame the voters who force them to behave that way. We get the government we deserve.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              If you want to blame someone, blame the voters who force them to behave that way. We get the government we deserve.

              I would suggest we blame the campaign finance laws that require them to behave that way.

              • by Reason58 (775044)

                I would suggest we blame the campaign finance laws that require them to behave that way.

                I fail to see the connection between campaign finance laws and politicians pandering to whatever the voters currently want. Election campaigns could magically be free and they would still behave in this manner. They want votes, and consistency (currently) does not win you elections.

                • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:33PM (#35509608) Homepage Journal

                  I fail to see the connection between campaign finance laws and politicians pandering to whatever the voters currently want.

                  Your incorrect assumption is that there are any politicians "pandering to whatever the voters currently want". That hasn't been the case in quite a while. As far as I can tell, there are a bunch of governors for example doing things that are very unpopular with the voters. Look at the polls in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan for example.

                  • by Reason58 (775044)
                    If their actions are truly "very unpopular" with the voters then those governors won't be there after the next election. If they are still around then their actions obviously weren't as unpopular as they are being portrayed.
                    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                      If their actions are truly "very unpopular" with the voters then those governors won't be there after the next election.

                      It looks like some of the Republican senators in Wisconsin and the governor won't even make to the next election if these recall elections end up as strongly as they're starting.

                    • by shentino (1139071)

                      Maybe the voters are apathetic because they know that the government has no incentive to behave once they're elected.

                      Even if the president gets voted out in an overwhelming landslide next term he still has 4 years to show his true colors, and until those years are over, only his fellow corporate trough feeders can oust him.

                    • by Reason58 (775044)
                      In what way are United States governors tyrants? Are they not placed in power by the voters? Or is your assertion that you know better than all of the respective states' voters?
                    • voters.

                      yeah, right.

                      the system is broken and votes are not relevant. you trust the elections do you? yeah?

                • by BillX (307153)

                  "Pandering to whatever voters currently want"... Er, isn't that supposed to be their job?
                  (Some might disagree on how well they are doing it, of course...)

              • which is to blame the very system, itself.

                say it. call it for what it is. broken beyond shit.

                need 2.0 rev. need it bad.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:14PM (#35509394) Homepage Journal

            ... and no principles that consistently direct their decision-making

            I disagree. Clearly, the principle of "keep the big donors happy and give lip-service to voters" is the guiding principle for every politician except a very few. Bernie Sanders comes to mind, but he's a Socialist!1! so that doesn't count because clearly he's trying to undermine God and the Founding Fathers by trying to look out for his constituents.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            It's more to do with political game play. Right now the administration can propose all kinds of left aligned legislation knowing full well the Republicans in the lower house well knock it back if it has any possible conceivable impact upon corporate profits as reported to them by legions of lobbyists.

            So a year and a half odd, off free political campaigning to make the Republicans look anti-people, a government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. Of course the administration mi

      • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        So online privacy but also invasive searches "just in case" you are doing something bad?

        I'd hope he believes in privacy but is being pushed for the new copyright law by his (and other Democrat) donors.

        • by Intron (870560)

          Online privacy means you can't snoop on other people. You can bet that Law Enforcement is exempt.

          Copyright law means you can't copy things. The Fed is already exempt from that. You can't sue the government for copyright violation.

      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        Well, let's see: There's absolutely no way the privacy legislation will make it through the current Congress. Plus, Obama only came up with this after the Democrats had already lost control of Congress. And, there's a very good chance that the copyright stuff will make it through Congress.

        So, I think it's fairly safe to say that he does intend to implement the copyright stuff, and that he has no intention of allowing the privacy legislation to succeed.

        It's politics, pure and simple. He's hoping to convince

        • lets see, pick obama and things are pretty bad. he's not honorable and won't keep his word.

          choose the other party and it will get much worse, guaranteed.

          nice system we have here.

    • by PinchDuck (199974)

      ding ding ding. Thanks for saving me a post.

  • how about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:38PM (#35508988)

    How about not having to be seen naked in order to be able to fly? Or that there should be a court order before my electronic communications can be intercepted by law enforcement / intelligence agencies?

    Bush, Obama, same thing...

    • Re:how about (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:03PM (#35509308)
      I was thinking the same thing. It's not about privacy. Can I smoke what I want in my own home? Nope. Can I grow what I want in my back yard? Nope. Can I get a state-sponsored marriage with whomever I want? Nope. There are piles of things that don't affect anyone outside the room they happen in that are illegal. Where's the privacy for those? Where is my right to keep the contents of my car private from the government officials who pull me over? Where did my privacy go, and why bother to call this a "privacy" related bill when it's about data retention and correlation of public information more than anything privacy related?

      Instead, this bill should be the "no sharing" bill where it is made illegal to share information with 3rd parties without express permission and it's illegal to require that permission to offer a service. That's an easy fix, but the real solution will be much much worse for us. And it won't address our real privacy at all.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Where did my privacy go

        The same people who took our jobs!

        They took our jobs!

  • by symes (835608) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:39PM (#35509002) Journal

    I wonder how far this will go - would it stop Facebook from having some sort of User License Agreement whereby users can only get on Facebook if they allow all their info to be sold on?

    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      I wonder how far this will go - would it stop Facebook from having some sort of User License Agreement whereby users can only get on Facebook if they allow all their info to be sold on?

      I wonder how they will square this with the recent DoE threats to sue public school teachers/administrators that fail to monitor student's non-school-related Facebook pages and other online communications for any hints of non-specific "harassment or bullying" and punish and/or suspend "offenders"?

      I remember a time when any teachers or school administrators who "monitored" a student outside of school in such an intrusive way would get a starring role in a criminal investigation.

      So, when (not "if") some sick,

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Make damn sure that the only parts of privacy that we can sign away are reasonable, and require an honest request with a clear indication as to what we're agreeing to up front when we make that decision. As it stands you can agree to let them share or not, but you're typically not told who the 3rd parties are and as a result you don't really know what you're agreeing to if you say yes.

    • Probably the have a warning in the EULA that if you sign in, you agree to the sharing of data.

      The distintion is that, AFAIK, they do not even have to warn you before sharing the data.

      Also, they probably will have to secure that data, know to which they sell it and what they want to do with it, and also ask the third party to equally ensure the data (maybe even forbidding the third party to reselling the data to another party).

      Not "the solution of all troubles", but probably an improvement.

  • Google's Troubles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:40PM (#35509014)

    Can we PLEASE stop talking about Google as if they did something wrong? I don't exactly blame my neighbors for hearing me when I stand on the top of my house screaming my personal information in all directions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What Google did amounts to wiretapping. Period. They eavesdropped and recorded "conversations" carried out over FCC regulated airwaves. There is no difference between what they did and placing a tap on your phone line and recording bits of your conversation.

      Wiretapping laws don't require your "conversations" to be encrypted, so don't bother wasting your energy ranting about Wi-Fi encryption.

      You government shills... easy to spot a mile a way...

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Exactly which wire did Google tap?

        • by hedwards (940851)

          None. I'm not aware of any jurisdiction, at least in the US, that is that literal about it. Typically if you record a conversation that's a wiretap, if you do it with a tape recorder or you do it over the phone it's equally wiretapping. The problem is that since the Google van wasn't a party to those transmissions no state allows that without an appropriate court order. Around here we're a one party consent state, but since the one party has to actually be involved with the conversation, they wouldn't have

        • so, its ok if they travel your neighborhood for short durations?

          how about if they park in front of your house for an hour? or 6?

          so, you don't like that but you are ok with them doing a 'drive by' snoop on you.

          as the old joke goes, "we already established, madam, what you are; its only a question of amount, at this point."

          think about it. if you are ok with the 'public space' argument then you must be ok with them making a 6 hour wire/air tapping experiment in front of your house. only on public streets, o

      • by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <(zalanmeggyesi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:57PM (#35509242)

        What those people did amounts to criminal stupidity. Period.

        Fixed the typo for you, no need to thank me.

        First off, I'm from Hungary, so I don't need you flinging the "government shills" crap towards me, the US government can go rot in Hades for all I care.

        I don't know much about US wiretapping laws either, not being even a paralegal, but consider this: it's called wiretapping for a reason. Wired conversations go between two discrete parties, so to eavesdrop, you need to break in at one point onto private property. Wi-Fi is a point-to-multipoint protocol, it's the equivalent of standing on your rooftop and screaming out your info for the world to hear, like grandparent said. I can walk by your house, and get it without breaking any laws, unless you suddenly want to control what I'm allowed to hear. If I went ahead, and installed a secret microphone to listen in on what you whisper to your friend in your living room, not that is wiretapping!

        Learn to encrypt the network, otherwise people will just surf on it, "since it's there". You know, like why Hillary climbed Mount Everest.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:49PM (#35509150)

      Can we PLEASE stop talking about Google as if they did something wrong? I don't exactly blame my neighbors for hearing me when I stand on the top of my house screaming my personal information in all directions.

      I don't blame the people at the next table when they overhear my conversation either. But they aren't deliberately listening in, recording it, transcribing it, and publishing it on the web.

      And they aren't following me from restaurant to restaurant recording my conversations at each, and adding them to the web, all linked together.

      They aren't writing down what I'm wearing at each meal, and then analyzing it to determine colour preferences, brand preferences, income level, social standing, peer group, etc. And then selling this information...

      Likewise you don't really care that your neighbors can see and hear you outside. But you'd probably object if your neighbor started keeping "files" on you, recording your comings and goings, writing down what you are wearing, producing transcripts of everything they see and hear...while watching your home with binoculars and cameras... and then publishing and selling it all on the web.

      • Unless you're suggesting that Google is selling their accidentally-collected WiFI data, you're conflating two *completely* different issues.

      • by causality (777677)

        Can we PLEASE stop talking about Google as if they did something wrong? I don't exactly blame my neighbors for hearing me when I stand on the top of my house screaming my personal information in all directions.

        I don't blame the people at the next table when they overhear my conversation either. But they aren't deliberately listening in, recording it, transcribing it, and publishing it on the web.

        And they aren't following me from restaurant to restaurant recording my conversations at each, and adding them to the web, all linked together.

        They aren't writing down what I'm wearing at each meal, and then analyzing it to determine colour preferences, brand preferences, income level, social standing, peer group, etc. And then selling this information...

        Likewise you don't really care that your neighbors can see and hear you outside. But you'd probably object if your neighbor started keeping "files" on you, recording your comings and goings, writing down what you are wearing, producing transcripts of everything they see and hear...while watching your home with binoculars and cameras... and then publishing and selling it all on the web.

        I admire your grasp of the facts and your (quite accurate) assessment of the situation.

        The problem is bigger than a matter of information. This is a religious cause for the Google apologists, unfortunately. They decide ahead of time that what Google did is acceptable. They then reject any information that would contradict this conclusion.

        You are quite right that GP would almost certainly object to a neighbor who collects this level of information about him. He'd find that disturbing, violating, and down

        • You are quite right that GP would almost certainly object to a neighbor who collects this level of information about him. He'd find that disturbing, violating, and downright creepy, the kind of behavior in which a stalker would engage. But he thinks it's perfectly acceptable when Google collects that much information. And doesn't see the contradiction.

          Well, one of the reasons I'm okay with Google collecting all that info about my online activity is that unlike my creepy stalker neighbor, Google won't be coming at me with sharp implements any time soon.

          The other is that I really don't see how knowing what I look at one the web can harm me. I mean, it's irrelevant to my career that I read and post on Slashdot, that I read Hackaday, along with diplomacia.hu (university major's homepage), and the EU news site, or that I like to go on wiki walks to expand my

        • by Hatta (162192)

          When has Google followed anyone anywhere? Google drove down the street recording everything it could hear. This is perfectly legal for an individual to do, and it should be equally legal for a corporation to do.

          If we're still talking about the wifi interception, it is absolutely not an accurate assessment to compare it to stalking/harassment.

        • by Elbereth (58257)

          Google is like the socially retarded neighbor who hires a private investigator to fully investigate you, to find out what the best housewarming gift would be. You might be a slight bit conflicted as to how to feel, given the circumstances. It's definitely creepy, but one could conceivably argue that it's done to give you a better experience. I'm not sure I buy that, but I'm trying to be open-minded.

        • This is a religious cause for the Google apologists, unfortunately.

          This is an important fight rather for the people who have decided ahead of time that no matter WHAT the actual story or facts of the situation are, Slashdot will make as inflammatory a summary as possible if corporations or government are involved, and then 80% of posts will be about how said subject wants to murder babies.

          So forgive me if my initial reflex on reading a summary such as "Google to break into your house and steal your file cabinets" is to think "gee, I wonder just how different the reality of

      • by Intron (870560)

        unless you are famous. Then paparazzi do all of those things. I imagine that's why celebrities occasionally gog berserk and punch somebody.

      • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:06PM (#35509330)

        None of which is relevant to what the OP is talking about, which is the data received from insecure Wi-Fi APs, not Google's cookies online. They weren't deliberately listening in, as much as they were listening to everything. You can argue they recorded it, but that's because computer's cannot listen without recording it in some fashion.

        They definitely didn't follow people around, they didn't upload them to the web, they didn't analyze the data, and they didn't sell it. They deleted it. Hell, they would have preferred deleting it, instead of handing it over to the government, when they found the data they had and told people about it off their own bat.

        • by Teun (17872)
          Exactly, plus it was due to the drive-by method just a snapshot, not a trail of your communication habits.

          And whether you like it or not this is data transmitted on public waves, similar to an audible conversation in the middle of the mall.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @05:14PM (#35509390)
        If my neighbors gave me have the shit Google does for free, they could write down all they want.

        The government on the other hand, takes 30% of my pay, charges be an extra 6% on everything I buy, is recording FAR FAR more personal data about me than Google could ever dream, and most importantly has a long and storied history of arresting, imprisoning, torture and lets not forget executing people it deems criminals or enemy combatants.

        The result of Google collecting data on me? Free email and long distance calls with the downside of targeted adds.
        The result of the Government collecting data on me? Nothing good, but the possibility of discrimination, arrest, imprisonment and death.

        If I need a "bill of rights" to protect me from something, lets start with the thing that could possibly KILL me before we worry about target advertising.
        • by vux984 (928602)

          If my neighbors gave me have the shit Google does for free, they could write down all they want.

          The difference being that you are assuming you actually have a choice. I don't think they should have the right to record you by default, but if you want them do... that's entirely up to you.

          The result of Google collecting data on me? Free email and long distance calls with the downside of targeted adds.

          What about these downsides... ... the possibility of discrimination, arrest, imprisonment and death.

          I mean, why

          • I don't think they should have the right to record you by default, but if you want them do... that's entirely up to you.

            This should be one of the first things they teach people before they get on the web. Dont like what a website operator (google) is doing? STOP VISITING THEIR SITE. The internet isnt a democracy; each site is its own monarchy, and if you dont like it you can leave.

            • by BillX (307153)

              <devil's advocate> It's not as simple as that. Some 70% of commercial 3rd-party sites now include some kind of Google-hosted advertising (including recently-acquired Doubleclick).

        • by hedwards (940851)

          So, how much is it worth for them to not let your home burn down, investigate and prosecute anybody that might rob you? Or how about what is it worth to have streets for the ambulances to travel on in case you actually need emergency assistance?

          I hear a lot of whining from the anti-tax people about how the government is taking my money and giving nothing in return, but would you really be that better off without the taxes and the things that taxes provide? Money, despite popular belief, is just money. Preci

      • But they aren't deliberately listening in, recording it, transcribing it, and publishing it on the web.

        Err.. care to explain when and where exactly they published it?

  • So first they back ideas to introduce total internet data retention, surveillance, tracking and killswitch control in order to fight pirates. Then they back ideas about better privacy? What sort of morons make decisions in the white house?
    • What sort of morons make decisions in the white house?

      Sneaky ones. The proposed new "Privacy Act" will dictate how private industry will keep information gathered on individuals. Just like the Data Privacy Act of 1974 does for the government. I do not believe this prevents the government from requiring ISPs from keeping data logs on its users, since they can create exceptions for ISPs by classifying them as similar to traditional common carrier status and not commerce. Better yet, they can make all the exc

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Right now our Social Security Numbers act as an identifier and a unchangeable password. I wish that somebody would address this data issue.

  • by overshoot (39700)
    For a moment there I thought someone had gotten to him and we were going to have the Fourth Amendment back again.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @04:57PM (#35509232) Homepage Journal

    the White House wants Congress to enact legislation offering 'baseline consumer data privacy protections.'

    Wait a minute .. isn't this the same guy who, when he was a Senator, voted for the bill to give AT&T retroactive immunity to their illegal wiretaps?

    I guess it just goes to show, in 2008 Obama was just another politician, as corrupt and ineffective as anyone else, but now in 2011 he's become an idealist, finally offering the hope and change that just three years ago, nobody could credibly believe in.

  • The number one violator of privacy is the federal government. On the internet, on the phone, with out passports, with TSA, even on our drivers licenses they're just non stop. How about not having to tell the IRS my bank account, my income, or every transaction over 10000, since when was anything like that any of their freaking business.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Since they gained the authority to tax. If you don't like it you're free to move to another country, but somebody has to pay for the things the government supplies. And since conservatives know basically nothing about balancing the budget the amount of taxes is much higher than it otherwise would be. But there are other countries with lower taxes, I just doubt very much that you'd want to live in those sorts of places.

  • So if the federal government is now in favor of us having the right to control our privacy, I guess this means they'll stop threatening to throw us into jail when we don't tell them our business, huh? ;-)
  • He's joking right? The day after expanding copyright "reform" and weeks after renewing the patriot act...fuck you obama change my ass

  • OK, so today the White House announced its support for two new laws. One protects citizens from predatory trade practices, the other extends the fiat monopoly powers of a corporate lobbying group. Seems like a fine opportunity for a free market and representative democracy shootout.

    1. Which one will get gutted before passage?
    2. Which one will be broadened before passage?
    3. Which one will pass first?
    4. Which one will be decried by the opposition party as unconscionable government interference in the free mar

  • like when they named the act that takes away your right to not be spied on and illegally searched the patriot act. I would be interested in what obama is really up to cause he has abandoned helping regular people.
  • If only he was backing a bill aimed at protecting [citizens] against tracking and data collection by their [government].

    But I doubt that will ever happen.

  • I want privacy rights against the Government spying on me.

    And yes, he's a Token President.

    What do I mean? he's like every other piece of shit token polititian that says whatever works to get him in office and then doesn't go thru with his promises. Token.

    For the record, I made the mistake of believing his speeches. Won't happen again.

    • we're all saying this. its a univeral feeling. we all 'get it'.

      sadly, we don't matter. we, here, are nobodies.

      the 'somebodies' just don't care. they're like the phone company, they don't *have* to care. they are not accountable to us.

      but we all, here, do get it. we want the spying and privacy invasions FROM the government to stop. we can sort of take care of the corps on our own. its YOU we worry about.

  • "Don't spy, the government hates competition".

    As long as the US government routinely and massively records email, web traffic and phone conversations, they have no business telling others to not do the same or much smaller things.

  • by LuYu (519260)

    Is this Privacy Bill going to protect us from DHS border searches? Since this administration has been so pro-ACTA, I think they should certainly review their opinions on privacy.

  • by b4upoo (166390)

    Never give an inch. How can anything filmed from the street violate anyone's privacy? This crap is absurd.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @08:04PM (#35510966)

    how about you protect the citizens from our own government? THAT's what I worry more about.

    I company can't keep fucking with you until you die. the government can.

    I can manage companies. I cannot manage an out-of-control info-hungry COUNTRY.

    get rid of TSA and put air travel back where it was 10+ yrs ago and then maybe we'll believe you are 'concerned' about our privacy.

    assholes.

  • The Obama administration's reported push for stronger federal oversight over online privacy is likely to be welcomed by privacy advocates increasingly concerned about the data-collection and data-sharing practices of big Internet companies and marketing companies.

    There you go, this is what it's all about, always has been, and always will be.

  • Obama is a lawyer, so he understands something.

    His highest priority as a legislator and now as the commander in chief is to protect the right to abortion. Roe v. Wade doesn't establish an absolute right to abortion, it determined that a woman's right to privacy allows her to get an abortion. If the right to privacy disappears, so does Obama's sacrament.

    LK

  • by Triv (181010)

    I saw that headline and I felt a ray of hope.

    And then I read it and realized he's talking about tracking me on the internet (trendy!) and not about actually preventing my personal, kind of a bigger deal, Rights, from being trampled on - the TSA and Guantanamo and security theater and 9/11 as an excuse to let law enforcement do whatever it feels like in the name of security and wiretapping and the lack of judicial review.

    But we got a Facebook Bill of Rights instead.

    Amazing.

    --Triv

  • After all, they seem to be pulling out all the stops to ensure that our privacy is a thing of the past. Maybe they just don't want the advertisers on their turf.

  • And the new privacy bill of rights answers with a very weak whisper before finally dying.
  • Is this in any way to the "please-don't-track-me" header or optout-cookie proposals being volleyed around by gov/browser folks and the IAB, respectively? Have they worked out how they actually plan to enforce this business and keep everybody honest?

    So.. do you remember when you were a kid, on Halloween, somebody would put out a big bucket of candy and a "please take only one" sign? Do you remember how well that worked? Well, now those kids are all grown up and working at internet advertising companies :-) A

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