Cover: The New Faces of Privacy

The New Faces of Privacy

Published 1993

by Willis H. Ware


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Since privacy in the recordkeeping context became a national concern at the turn of the 1970s, it has developed new and different dimensions -- new faces. Many are similar in nature to historical recordkeeping issues, and some capitalize on old in-place laws to use information quite differently. Yet others reflect the marketing of new technology, not always in a socially gracious way. Some of the new faces are annoying but not ominous; others, such as the inability of record systems to promptly correct errors and the lack of protective mechanisms for the data subject, are ugly. This paper summarizes the concept of privacy, reviews some of its underlying tenets and axioms, illustrates the drift toward a national counter-privacy posture in terms of events involving the Social Security Number, and discusses new faces in terms of three case histories: the California action to require SSNs on driver licenses, the effort by telephone companies to introduce Calling Number Identification, and the aggregation of public records into dossier databases. Remedial actions by government and legislators are suggested.

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