The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age

By Daniel J. Solove | Go to book overview

7
The Problem of
Public Records

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.


Records from Birth to Death

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

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The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • I - Computer Databases 11
  • 2: The Rise of the Digital Dossier 13
  • 3: Kafka and Orwell 27
  • 4: The Problems of Information Privacy Law 56
  • 5: The Limits of Market-Based Solutions 76
  • 6: Architecture and the Protection of Privacy 93
  • II - Public Records 125
  • 7: The Problem of Public Records 127
  • 8: Access and Aggregation Rethinking Privacy and Transparency 140
  • III - Government Access 163
  • 9: Government Information Gathering 165
  • 10: The Fourth Amendment, Records, and Privacy 188
  • 11: Reconstructing the Architecture 210
  • 12: Conclusion 223
  • Notes 229
  • Index 267
  • About the Author 283
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