Personal Privacy in an Information Society. Competing Public-Policy Interests

07/12/1997

A major theme of this report is that privacy, both as a societal value and as an individual interest, does not and cannot exist in a vacuum. Indeed, "privacy" is a poor label for many of the issues the Commission addresses because to many people the concept connotes isolation and secrecy, whereas the relationships the Commission is concerned with are inherently social. Because they are, moreover, the privacy protections afforded them must be balanced against other significant societal values and interests. The Commission has identified five such competing societal values that must be taken into account in formulating public policy to protect personal privacy: (1) First Amendment interests; (2) freedom of information interests; (3) the societal interest in law enforcement; (4) cost; and (5) Federal-State relations.