Records, Computers and the Rights of Citizens. Legislation


We have made a number of recommendations that require the submission of legislative proposals to the Congress as follows.

  • To establish a code of fair information practice for all automated personal data systems maintained by agencies of the Federal government or by organizations within reach of the authority of the Federal government. The code should embody safeguard requirements for both administrative systems and systems used exclusively for statistical reporting and research, and should provide injunctive relief as well as civil and penal sanctions for violation of the code [Ch. IV, pp. 50, 53-64; Ch. V, pp. 86-87; Ch. VI, pp. 97-102] .
  • To establish protection against compulsory disclosure through legal process for identifiable personal data used exclusively for statistical reporting and research [Ch. VI, pp. 102-106]:
  • To amend the Freedom of Information Act to require that an agency obtain the consent of an individual before disclosing data about him in identifiable form [Ch. IV, pp. 64-66] .
  • To protect individuals against unauthorized use of the Social Security number by providing that:
    (i) an individual shall have the right not to disclose his Social Security number unless specifically required to do so by Federal statute [Ch. VIII, pp. 125-126] ;
    (ii) any oral or written request made to an individual for his Social Security number shall be accompanied by a clear statement of the legal basis for the request [Ch. VIII, pp. 125-126 ] ;.
    (iii) an individual shall have a right to redress if his lawful refusal to disclose his Social Security number results in the denial of a benefit, or the threat of such denial [Ch. VIII, pp. 125-126] ;
    (iv) any organization or person required by Federal law to obtain and record the Social Security number of an individual shall be prohibited from using or disclosing it without the individual's informed consent, except as may be necessary to the Federal purposes for which the number was obtained and recorded [Ch. VIII, pp. 130-132] .
  • To prohibit any person or organization from using any Social Security number, or any number represented as a Social Security number, for promotional or commercial purposes [Ch. VIII, pp. 134-135].
  • To amend Section 609 (a) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
    (i) to give an individual the right to inspect personally the records that any consumer-reporting agency maintains about him, and to copy their contents or have copies made [Ch. IV, pp. 66-70];
    (ii) to delete the exceptions from disclosure to an individual now permitted for medical information and sources of information used in investigative consumer reports [Ch. IV, pp. 70-71 ] .

Action by the Secretary to initiate these legislative proposals should be taken in concert with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, as appropriate.