A discussion of some of the problems and effects of computer information systems relative to society. Although society's size and complexity demand computerized recordkeeping, the opportunities for malicious misuse of personal information--or for spreading misinformation--are increasing as more and more dossiers exchange information automatically. Some medical information gets into data systems. There is no legal framework to protect the individual, to fix liability for leaks, or to provide for award of damages, although the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act is a start. We do not yet understand how to design or test systems that protect the information they contain, and often do not use the protective mechanisms we do know about. The problem is real, the urgency is great, and action is needed now. (See also P-4329.) 9 pp.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.