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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy

Government Threats to Privacy

There are many ways that governments undermine and threaten the privacy of citizens. Governments have numerous incentives to collect, store, and use information about their citizens. And they suffer very little when they misuse information about citizens.

These threats can roughly be placed into three categories. Public records threaten privacy in that they are amassed through mandatory collection of information. Citizens do not have choices when they are faced with government requests for information. Surveillance obviously undermines privacy, and it is a growing governmental activity. And anti-privacy law and regulation is the broad array of government policies and programs that prevent citizens from protecting privacy as they see fit.

Not all programs should give way because of their effects on privacy, but analysis makes clear that loss of privacy is a direct cost of many government programs.


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[updated 09/19/01]

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