The "Privacy2002" gathering in Cleveland

Monday, 30 September 2002, 11:53 AM EST

Privacy and security experts gathered this week along the shores of Lake Erie to network and share their fears about the threat ever-evolving technology poses to ordinary consumers, business and governments alike.

A hot topic among the privacy/security set these days is hardly a new one: the need to improve online security, especially for the average Internet users who probably isn't too clear about what a firewall is, even if they know how to pirate MP3 files. The conference was buzzing about Uncle Sam's latest effort to spread the security message: "Dewie"the Internet security turtle.

Dewie was spawned about seven months ago at the Federal Trade Commission and was hatched Thursday in Cleveland. An informal poll seeking spot reactions of conference attendees to the Dewie concept mostly produced wide-eyed surprise and eye-rolling.

But FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle was on hand to sound a bullish message about his Internet safety turtle. A recognizable icon, he said, helps to bring more attention to an issue that could never be as exciting as a sports star breaking a major record.

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