Testimony to the Assembly Committee on Efficiency and Cost Control.

by Willis H. Ware


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Invited testimony for a California legislative committee hearing on computer privacy and security in June 1973. The problem is to protect individuals mentioned in record systems from being harmed by deliberate or inadvertent misuse of information, perhaps by an authorized user. Legal responsibility should be on the recordkeeping organization, not the technician. An ombudsman can be useful but probably cannot initiate new policy or inaugurate new legislation. Rather than a state or federal regulatory body, as Ware suggested in 1969, he now recommends a Code of Fair Information Practices to (1) keep the public informed as to the existence and nature of all databanks containing information about individuals; (2) enable each individual to know what information about him is maintained, to correct and update it, and to prevent information given for one purpose from being used for another; and (3) provide legal recourse in case of harm through mistake or misuse. By using the established legal and judicial system, this would minimize the bureaucracy required. Through continuing court judgments and interpretations, it provides a self-adapting solution that can change over time as society changes. 7 pp.

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