prevent identity theft. Even when it's hard to imagine how the information a business collects could be used to hurt consumers, many people are vaguely uneasy about letting go of their data. But they're not necessarily willing to bear the burden of withholding information from companies whose privacy policies they consider inadequate. That would require too much research, and it might mean giving up otherwise appealing opportunities. "We're lazy," Safire concedes. Instead, Safire wants the world rearranged to suit bashful, lazy people like him. He advocates an "opt-in" system in which the sharing of information would be prohibited without specific permission for each datum and use. Another word for information-sharing, of course, is speech, which is why Timothy Muris, the new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, has argued that the Fair Credit Reporting Act is unconstitutional. If that position seems extreme, try to imagine an "opt-in" system for journalists, under which any information they obtained about someone through interviews, records or observation could not be used without explicit written permission. Somehow I doubt that William Safire would support such a rule.