The debate over how much information the government should have about its citizens

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The debate over how much information the government should have about its citizens

Why would a person care about someone snooping them?

All content subject to the Privacilla Public License. Introduction Governments are far and away the most voracious collectors, users, and sometime abusers of personal and private information. There is a long and growing list of both threats to privacy and privacy invasions committed by governments and their employees, including the U.

This is not surprising, however. The government sector has many incentives to collect, store, and use personal information. It collects too much personal information about its people, keeps that information too long, and sometimes uses it to invade privacy, or worse.

They are subject to both consumerist retaliation and legal action when they invade privacy. Nonetheless, conventional wisdom today holds strongly that business is the major threat to consumer privacy.

This is not the case. While threats from private businesses are not absent, the clearest menace to privacy today, yesterday, and tomorrow is the government sector.

Governments collect information aggressively, they frustrate opportunities to protect privacy, and they possess massive databases that are sometimes very wrongly used, in terms of both privacy and civil liberties. An important civic discussion of privacy is underway in the United States and throughout the world.

Though much of it deals with information practices that have been evolving for years, the discussion has been hastened by the rapid growth of the Internet and digital communications technology. But the discussion should not happen at "Internet speed.

The debate over how much information the government should have about its citizens

The privacy debate should be carried out deliberately, by open minds, with an eye on real evidence. In assessing threats to privacy, the evidence points directly at governments as the greatest menace. Political leaders and regulators who have proposed to protect privacy by clamping down on private sector information practices are truly throwing stones in glass houses.

While there is some glass left, they should take a good look at their own reflections.

The debate over how much information the government should have about its citizens

The most plentiful and serious threats to privacy are of their own making. Government Threats to Privacy Threats to privacy from the government sector are legion. Even an incomplete list shows the varied ways that governments frustrate individual privacy.

Carnivore "Carnivore" is a specialized computer developed by the FBI and equipped with software that can scan millions of e-mails per second. This technology can be used to monitor the communications of legitimate crime suspects, or to fish through the e-mails of anyone using a particular ISP. The latter is the equivalent of police stopping and frisking everyone who enters a shopping mall or passes a particular city street corner.

Because the technology is so strong, and because the FBI has so far resisted any truly independent monitoring, there is no ways to ensure that government investigators are using Carnivore only for legitimate purposes and within legitimate bounds. The Carnivore system should be made subject to strict controls and independent monitoring if it is to be used at all.

Their regulations would have required these institutions to: Overpeople wrote to regulators objecting to the proposal, and the pernicious "Know Your Customer" regulations were ultimately withdrawn.

They are not gone, however. The "Know Your Customer" regulations would only have formalized policies that are currently in place under the ironically named Bank Secrecy Act.

The Bank Secrecy Act authorizes the Treasury Department to require financial institutions to maintain records of personal financial transactions that have a "high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax and regulatory investigations and proceedings.

Privacy or A Life?

A law enforcement agency does not have to suspect actual crime before it can access a report, and no court order, warrant, subpoena, or even written request is needed.

Law enforcement agencies can, and allegedly do, download the entire harvest of new information from FinCEN whenever they want it. National Individual Health IDs So far, we have learned how the federal government threatens our online privacy and undermines our financial privacy.

The third of the big three is medical privacy. There is no end to privacy threats from the government sector in this area. Without question, governments became the biggest consumers of extremely private information about individuals when they got in the business of health care.

The ugly specter of a national health database remains. The National Individual Health ID could so easily be used in thousands of pernicious ways that the Secretary of HHS, recognizing the writing on the wall, has taken almost no steps to implement this requirement. Encryption Threats to privacy do not just come from secret government snooping and data collection, however.

Encryption is a way to encode computer files so that only someone with access to a secret "key" can read them. Encryption can protect computer systems and intellectual property from industrial spies and malicious hackers.If the government wants to restore public confidence that privacy rights are being respected, it must give the public and the lawmakers sufficient information to debate these issues with rigor.

Resolving conflicts over what society's priorities should be is the essence of. politics _____ is the belief that government should do as little as possible, not only in the economic sphere, but also in regulating morality and personal behavior.

The televised presidential debates in _____ included a third-party candidate, H. Ross Perot. The government will only be on the look-out for trouble-makers, terrorists etc.

50% of the citizens in USA disagreed with it with that statistic in mind it made the government more . Its main recommendations related to new financial relations with the central government and to the minimizing of central supervision over local authorities.

Thus, in the s and s, some additional functions and responsibilities were given to local government in physical, social and educational arenas. Access to Government Information This section of the legal guide outlines the wide-array of information available to you from government sources.

These sources range from your local city council all the way up to the largest agencies in the federal government. While the estimates of how much the minimum wage should be increased vary, many economists agree that if it had kept pace with rising productivity and incomes, it .

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