Just a few short years ago, lawmakers and regulators across the land were debating what kind of "firewall" would best protect the privacy interests of the consumer. Exciting new technology was zooming in on us, and the computerized delivery systems for an entire new menu of products and services would mandate change in the relationship between the vendor and the consumer.

They called it a new information age, the information being personal data about millions of people. That information was like gold in the hands of commercial and financial interests.

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