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White House defends Web security plan

Efforts to bolster Internet security will not lead to increased government scrutiny of individuals' online habits, the White House and industry sources said Friday. As it finalizes sweeping guidelines that aim to increase cybersecurity, the Bush administration said individual privacy would not be affected by efforts to prevent cyberattacks.

"The administration is not considering a proposal to monitor what individuals do on the Internet," a spokesman for the transition to the newly created Department of Homeland Security said.

High-tech companies, meanwhile, said they would resist government efforts to get involved in the day-to-day operation of the global computer network. In a set of preliminary guidelines released in September, the White House said high-tech companies that keep an eye on the Internet should combine their efforts and work with the government to better defend against computer viruses, worms and other cyberattacks.

The New York Times in its Friday edition reported the White House is planning a bigger government role in the proposed center that could possibly lead to surveillance of individual users. But high-tech sources who had been briefed on the updated plans said they were not aware of any such change, and White House cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke assured high-tech firms the government only wanted them to set up an "early warning system" to keep an eye on the health of the Internet .

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News source: c|net

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