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Preparing for Y2K and Staying Private on the Internet

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RALEIGH — The year 2000 is just around the corner, and some people predict gloom and doom from the Y2K computer bug. If you are concerned, you can keep up with progress online. However, the growth of the Internet itself could create a privacy problem.

Net surfers can keep up with progress on the Y2K issue by checking sites such as North Carolina's official year 2000 site. There are progress reports from city, county and state governments.

A resource guide points you to other Y2K compliance sites. A little reading could be reassuring.

Several recent surveys show people are not as worried about the Y2K issue as they were months ago. The United States is in pretty good shape, but some other areas of the world are questionable.

The Internet is getting pretty crowded, so engineers are developing a new way to address the Internet, and that has privacy advocates concerned.

TheInternet Engineering Task Forceproposes attaching a unique serial number to each computer's Internet address. Privacy advocates such as theElectronic Privacy Information Centerwarn that could lead to a loss of anonymity, but that is nothing new.

"Addresses can be tracked now. Every Web site that you visit can keep a log of those addresses that it comes from," said Dr. Bill Willis,Interpathvice president of engineering.

The fast-growing Internet is running out of addresses, similar to the way telephone companies are running out of numbers, but is the risk really that great?

"We accept the risk of our telephone number being identified to other people when we call them because we want people to be able to call us. For that to happen, it has to be registered," said Willis.

There is little reason for concern right now. Internet engineers are looking at other ways to get information packets where they belong, and any change is several years away.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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