Survey to measure privacy concerns

The public will be asked this summer whether having easily accessible public records is worth it ? if it means criminals can get their personal info that much easier

With technologies such as data warehouses and easily accessible search engines

at people's fingertips, does the public feel that access to public records

is threatening their privacy? That will be the focus of a survey to be conducted

in July by a nonprofit think tank. The results will be available in the

fall.

Dr. Alan F. Westin, president of the Center for Social and Legal Research,

the organization conducting the survey, said that as information become

easier for people to get their hands on, it might be time to rethink the

standards for what is open to the public.

"We need to identify genuine problem areas and reconsider actions about

what should be withheld," he said. The ease at which personal information

is available, such as driver's records, makes stalking, identification fraud

and other illegal activity that much easier.

"I believe that our survey will favor a reconsideration of how we disseminate

records," he said.

The survey, conducted with the help of Opinion Research Corp. International,

of Princeton N.J., will survey 1,000 adults.

ChoicePoint Inc., a company that provides retrieval, storage and analysis

of public information for government, has funded the survey with more than

$100,000.

REPORT CARD

"FTC, senator seek online privacy rules" [FCW.com, May 24, 2000]

"Privacy fears prompt study, delay" [Federal Computer Week, May 22, 2000]

"A question of trust" [Federal Computer Week, May 22, 2000]

BY Daniel Keegan
May 26, 2000

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NEXT STORY: Accessibility deadline may move

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