Internet privacy advocates fear new technology

— Engineers designing a new way to send information across the Internet want to include a unique serial number from each personal computer within every parcel of data, an idea that privacy advocates fear could lead to tracing senders' identities.

Critics warn that, if adopted, the move could potentially strip away a measure of anonymity and security enjoyed by tens of millions of home computer users who dial into America Online Inc. and other Internet providers over traditional telephone lines.

The proposal by the Internet Engineering Task Force would include the unique serial number for each computer's network connection hardware as part of its expanded new Internet protocol address.

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