Hastings Law Journal


John Shattuck


The politics and technology represented in George Orivell's 1984 reduced to zero any expectation of privacy. This Commentary discusses several recent political and technological trends that appear to be driving toward the same result. For example, Congress has been considering a proposal to establish a computerized national identification system to restrict immigration into the United States. This Commentary argues that such a system could become a major instrument for tracking and controlling the private lives of millions of citizens. In another type of privacy invasion, computer-matching, the federal government combines personal data from unrelated computer tapes to conduct government investigations. These examples demonstrate that the technological capability to collect, maintain, and cross-index information about private lives has outpaced the legal protection of privacy in the United States. This Commentary expresses the hope that the growing public interest in regulating these new technologies may exert political pressure to check this disturbing trend and protect the integrity of the individual.

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