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Home > Past Releases and Reports > Editor Comments on Introduction of "Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act"

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2002

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 546-3701 Editor Comments on Introduction of "Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act"

Proposal is "Where the Action is" for Privacy Protection

Washington, D.C. Editor Jim Harper commented today on the introduction of privacy legislation by Representative Bob Barr (R-GA). The legislation would require federal agencies to assess the impacts their regulations will have on privacy. Harper's comments follow:

The Barr proposal is where the action is for privacy protection. Consumers and citizens have the least control over personal information when they deal with governments. This legislation is an important step toward addressing that problem.

Agencies like the IRS, Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Education, and Veterans Administration use massive amounts of personal information without permission. When these practices are revealed, Americans will be more able to decide whether they want to pay the cost in lost privacy of government programs.

Expect the federal bureaucracy to howl at this proposal. They routinely use personal and private information without permission or effective notice.

As this legislation reveals, governments have yet to regulate themselves in terms of privacy. Other proposals, aimed at government regulation of the private sector, are deeply ironic. Americans get far more privacy protection in the marketplace than they do when they deal with federal agencies.

Congress, federal agencies, and state governments regularly denude Americans of privacy. Politicians should not focus on the private sector unless they have their own house in order and they emphatically do not. The Barr proposal would move them in that direction.

In March 2001, a report revealed that new federal information-sharing programs begin more than once every two weeks. ( is an innovative Web site that captures "privacy" as a public policy issue. Privacilla has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."


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