The Problem of
From the beginning of the twentieth century, we have witnessed a vast proliferation in the number of government records kept about individuals as well as a significant increase in public access to these records. These trends together have created a problematic state of affairs—a system where the government extracts personal information from the populace and places it in the public domain, where it is hoarded by private-sector corporations that assemble dossiers on almost every American citizen.
Today, federal, state, and local government entities maintain a smorgasbord of public records.1 State public records cover one's life from birth to death. Birth records can contain one's name, date of birth, place of birth, full names and ages of one's parents, and mother's maiden name.2 In particular, mother's maiden names are important because many companies use them as passwords to access more sensitive data. Shortly after birth, the federal government stamps an