Public policy aspects for an information age

by Willis H. Ware

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Discusses the computer's role as a recordkeeper for information about people and implications for an individual's privacy. At present the intersection between information needs of modern society and computer technology in a legally unconstrained setting has led to a situation in which vast amounts of personal information exists in record systems and there are many opportunities for abuse and misuse. The Privacy Act of 1974 is an omnibus approach extending citizen privileges to all federal record systems. It also created the Privacy Protection Study Commission which has held hearings on all major types of systems: research/statistical, employment, personnel, medical, insurance, depository, and credit. It deals with the basic question of how to construct a framework--partly legal, partly voluntary code compliance, partly professional ethics, partly administrative procedures, partly insurance--that will permit exploitation of computers for the benefit of all while assuring that no one is treated unfairly or harmed by a record system.

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