It turns out that the fear of domestic surveillance by our government and the repression of citizens’ civil rights is not a new issue. Total Information Awareness (TIA) is not a nightmare dreamed up by [w:John Poindexter]. Modern Mechanix has unearthed an Atlantic article from November, 1967 called, “The National Data Center and Personal Privacy” by Arthur R. Miller (no not THAT [w:Arthur Miller]!) in which is described the building of a large central database to compile large amounts of statistical/personal/medical data on US citizens. It was so scary that there were Congressional hearings on computers and their use to invade citizens’ privacy.
But such a Data Center poses a grave threat to individual freedom and privacy. With its insatiable appetite for information, its inability to forget anything that has been put into it, a central computer might become the heart of a government surveillance system that would lay bare our finances, our associations, or our mental and physical health to government inquisitors or even to casual observers. Computer technology is moving so rapidly that a sharp line between statistical and intelligence systems is bound to be obliterated. Even the most innocuous of centers could provide the “foot in the door” for the development of an individualized computer-based federal snooping system.
For those with access to LexisNexis Congressional you can read the entire hearing online including Edgar Dunn’s testimony or get thee to a federal depository library to check out the hearing. Here’s the entire citation:
The computer and invasion of privacy. Hearings, Eighty-ninth Congress, second session. July 26, 27, and 28, 1966. by United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations. Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy.
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