Protection of Personally Identifiable Information in Government

A Survey of U.S. Regulatory Framework and Emerging Technological Challenges

Authored by: Anna Ya Ni

Routledge Handbook on Information Technology in Government

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138925670
eBook ISBN: 9781315683645
Adobe ISBN: 9781317406792


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Technological innovations have amplified government’s dual responsibilities in relation to personal privacy in recent decades. On one hand, as a central user of personal information, government regularly collects detailed information about its citizens and residents, including information on criminal charges, international travels, financial activities, employment status and earnings, medical treatments, personal disabilities, and so on. Such information is necessary for government to maintain law and order, collect revenues, and administer a variety of social welfare programs. Recent strides in technology increase privacy concerns as these upgrades have allowed for faster, easier storage of more data, and aggregation and cross-referencing of that data, even possibly without the owner’s knowledge. Government collection of personal data is often perceived as an invasion of privacy. In the past several years, security breaches in government involving personal information have increased steadily (GAO 2008, 2013, 2015). For example, incidents involving breaches of sensitive data, such as government employee records, taxpayer information, public health records, etc., reported by federal agencies have risen from 5,503 in 2006 to 67,168 in 2014 (GAO 2015).

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