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Coalition formed to boost e-commerce confidence

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Technology giants including Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have formed a coalition to try to thwart identity theft and boost Americans' confidence in e-commerce.

The Coalition on Online Identity Theft, led by the Arlington, Va.-based Information Technology Association of America, will urge consumers to keep more detailed records of their e-commerce transactions.

The coalition will teach businesses to improve Web site and financial database security, and lobby the government to enforce penalties against identity thieves, said ITAA's president, Harris Miller.

The U.S. Postal Service reports that at least 50,000 people each year are victims of identity theft. The Treasury Department says thieves ring up $2 billion to $3 billion per year on stolen credit cards.

On July 1, California became the first state to require companies to warn consumers of security holes in their corporate computer networks. The measure could become the model for a nationwide law.

But many in Silicon Valley say such regulations could hamper innovation. They advocate a free-market approach under which companies that provide the best security naturally win the most customers.