This past Wednesday was international Data Privacy Day, with privacy and civil rights groups as well as corporations in The U.S., Canada and more than two dozen European nations holding special events and releasing statements in honour of the occasion.

Their comments and suggestions were largely targeted on the Obama administration, which — initially, at least — has taken a positive, proactive stance on Internet issues.

Among the more high-profile Data Privacy Day observances:

The Identity Theft Newsletter featured opinion pieces by three noted privacy experts, who pointed out a number of actions that governments could take to combat the growing threat from online identity theft.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) pointed out that the Web site, itself, places intrusive ‘cookies’ on visitors’ computers when they view YouTube video clips embedded on the site. The EFF says the Obama Web team should set a good example and work with YouTube to eliminate cookies from the process.

Microsoft (MS) hosted a special Data Privacy Day panel with representatives from MySpace, Intel, the California Office of Privacy Protection, Teenangels and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The panel will considered the results from two MS-sponsored focus groups in which consumers revealed their concerns about online privacy.

MS Chief Privacy Strategist Peter Cullen told earlier this week noted that focus group participants seemed resigned to face the threat of privacy breaches and identity theft indefinitely. But he characterized that finding as a wake-up call to the industry.

“To say [the situation is] hopeless is not accurate at all,” he said. “It means all of us have to be prepared to invest so we don’t lose the consumer trust.”

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