A common refrain in discussions of privacy and e-government is that new
bureaucrats should be installed to serve as "Chief Information Officers" or
"Privacy Czars" or other like-named positions. While there may be some benefit
in having officials dedicated to privacy, there are risks too.
The appointment of a privacy czar or creation of a privacy office is a poor
substitute for directly addressing the voraciousness of many government programs
for citizens' personal information. Political leaders themselves should incorporate
privacy into their daily consideration of policy options, rather than farming out
that responsibility to officials who may or may not have a say in government policy.
As a management matter, government privacy officers may become antagonistic
to the agencies with whom they deal, and lose effectiveness, or they may be
captured by agencies and become professional apologists for government erosion
Proposals to create government privacy bureaucrats should be treated skeptically.
True benefits to privacy come from reducing the demand of government programs
for personal information about citizens.