Privacy Expert Supports Barr Bill, Cites PFF Privacy Work
WASHINGTON, D.C. - If the Federal government is serious about protecting personal privacy, it can start by getting its own house in order. That was the message delivered by Jim Harper, an adjunct fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, at a hearing of the House Committee on Commercial and Administrative Law. According to Harper, the government uses “massive amounts” of personal information without permission. He believes legislation by U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, the Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act (H.R. 4561), will help address the problem.
“Though they are motivated only by beneficent purposes, many government programs deprive Americans of control over personal information and their privacy,” Harper told the committee. “When citizens apply for licenses or permits, fill out forms for regulators, or submit tax returns, they do not have the legal power to control what information they share. They must submit the information that the government requires. It is either illegal to withhold information or withholding information penalizes citizens of money or benefits to which they are legally entitled.”
“There is widespread consensus that people in the United States want to protect their privacy from government encroachments,” he said in written testimony. “The Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act will inform the public about the privacy impacts of federal regulations, and empower them to make informed decisions about government programs. There are many nuances to consider and understand — privacy and information policy are very difficult areas — but the legislation you have proposed is an appropriate, measured, and important step in the pursuit of enhanced privacy protection for American citizens.”
Harper, who is editor of Privacilla.org, cited the recent study by Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Alan Charles Raul, Privacy and the Digital State: Balancing Public Information and Personal Privacy.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.